Abuse reports must be taken seriously, says charity after Alice Ruggles murder

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The murder of a 24-year-old who was stalked and had her neck slashed by her "psychopath" soldier ex-boyfriend is a "potent reminder" of why women reporting abuse must be taken seriously, a charity has said.

Alice Ruggles was left to bleed to death in her own Gateshead flat last October after Lance Corporal Trimaan "Harry" Dhillon cut her throat from ear to ear after he found out she had found happiness with another man.

The soldier, who slashed his ex-girlfriend's neck in an act of "utter barbarism", was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday.

The court heard the 26-year-old had alienated her from her friends and been given a harassment notice warning, but despite complaining to the police Miss Ruggles chose not to have him arrested.

Speaking after the case, chief executive of Women's Aid Polly Neate said Miss Ruggles "was made to feel like a burden".

She said: "The devastating murder of Alice Ruggles is a potent reminder of why women reporting abuse must be taken seriously every single time.

"How many more women must be killed before we see robust investment in training for all agencies on domestic abuse - especially coercive control?

"How many women must be killed before we see robust sanctions being implemented swiftly when a perpetrator continues to harass his victim - even after the police are involved?"

She added that Miss Ruggles was the expert in her case "and should have been treated as such".

She said: "In Alice's case, Trimaan Dhillon continued to contact her, sending her a parcel, after he had been warned not to. That breach should have had immediate consequences for him. Instead, Alice was made to feel like a burden."

Detective Chief Inspector Lisa Theaker, of Northumbria Police, said at the time no-one knew the level of threat that Dhillon posed and the case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Dhillon, a signaller with the 2 Scots, drove 120 miles from his barracks near Edinburgh to confront Miss Ruggles and grabbed a long, sharp carving knife, cutting through to her spine.

Miss Ruggles, who worked for Sky in Newcastle and came from Leicestershire, tried to lock herself in the bathroom but Dhillon kicked it down.

Dhillon left the scene without dialling 999 but remembered to take her phone and the murder weapon, disposing of them on the way back to Edinburgh.

Jailing him, Judge Paul Sloan QC said: "You were pinning her down, probably by kneeling on her back, and in an act of utter barbarism you slashed her throat with a knife, slashed her at least six times, causing catastrophic injuries.

"Not a shred of remorse have you shown from first to last, indeed you were concentrating so hard on getting your story right when giving evidence, you forgot even to shed a crocodile tear."

In a statement made through the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which helps people avoid becoming victims of violence, her family said her loss would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Mother Sue said: "I just keep thinking I can't believe we didn't identify the signs of stalking but you just don't know when it's going on.

"I would like what happened to Alice to encourage others to seek support if they are worried about someone's behaviour."

Clive, her father, said: "All of us are trying to cope with losing Alice in different ways. We all miss her very much and it is a case of taking one day at a time. The effects of losing Alice will be with me and with all of us, every day, for our entire lives."