Murdered by jilted lover: Woman has neck slashed six times and is left dead on bathroom floor after soldier ex finds out she’s dating again
ALICE Ruggles, 24, was home alone in her Gateshead flat in 2016 when her stalker ex-boyfriend broke in, forced her into the bathroom and slit her throat.
Unable to accept that their relationship of just a few months was over, Trimaan ‘Harry’ Dhillon, a Lance-Corporal based at a barracks in Edinburgh harassed and stalked the 24-year-old Northumbria University graduate over the course of three months before breaking into her flat slitting her throat six times.
Alice Ruggles was just 24 when she was murdered by Trimaan ‘Harry’ Dhillon, a Lance-Corporal
“I’d read lots of stuff on the dangers of stalking but somehow I thought this was just some boyfriend who wouldn’t go away – and that wasn’t the same as a stalker,” says Alice’s mum Sue Hills.
“One of the last things I said to Alice before she died was ‘just ignore him and eventually he’ll leave you alone and go away’”.
The case sent shockwaves through the country – the chilling story is every woman’s worst nightmare.
Harry Dhillon had stalked Alice for months before murdering her in her flat in Gateshead
Alice’s shocking death has been revisited in a poignant and thought-provoking Channel 5 documentary that retraces the months leading up to that fatal night.
It shows just how quickly Harry was able to morph from apparently loving boyfriend to murderer – something no-one could have foreseen.
“No one knew what he was capable of,” is how flatmate and best friend Maxine McGill – who discovered Alice’s lifeless body at their flat in Gateshead less than an hour after she had been killed – puts it now.
The third of four children from a close-knit and loving family, Alice was working for Sky television when Dhillon, who was based in barracks in Edinburgh, contacted her on Facebook via a mutual friend after spotting her picture on the site.
The relationship quickly became serious. “She was absolutely besotted and truly would have kissed the ground that he walked on,” Maxine recalls.
Alice’s best friend and flatmate Maxine McGill found her dead in the bathroom less than an hour after she had been murdered
But behind the scenes more sinister forces were already at work – Dhillon was alienating Alice from her friends, including her former flatmates.
“It’s weird now looking back on it especially when she fell out with one of her really close friends up there,” recalls her sister Emma.
“I was like ‘this is so strange’ but I didn’t link him into any of it.”
Then, in early July 2016, Alice discovered Dhillon had been messaging another girl on dating app Tinder, and, unable to accept his excuses and lies, ended the relationship.
Dhillon was sentenced to 22 years for Alice’s murder
It would prove the start of a barrage of emails, texts and voicemails from her ex, all begging her to take him back and growing increasingly hostile in tone.
Alice blocked his number, but Dhillon found ways around it, contacting her family and friends and hacking into her social media accounts.
It was this way, her family believe, that he learned Alice had started dating someone new – a friend of Emma’s called Mike.
“It was,” her mother Sue says, “the thing that flipped it for him”.
Her obsessive ex Dhillon had alienated Alice from her friends, including her former flatmates
Dhillon’s messages and contact increased in frequency, leaving Alice visibly stressed and, finally, “frozen in fear” after Harry turned up unannounced – making a 200-mile round trip to leave chocolates and flowers on her windowsill.
After he departed, he left a chilling voicemail telling her he had brought the gifts “to prove that I didn’t want to kill you”.
It was enough to persuade Alice to call the police, who in turn issued a police information notice asking him to cease contact.
The notice has no legal power, although Alice thought it would be enough to bring an end to her ordeal.
“You started to see the old Alice, the vibrant happy go lucky girl that she always was come back,” recalls Maxine.
Alice had gone to the police but they were unable to save her
Just one week later however, Alice returned home to find a package sent by Harry containing a letter and some photos.
It was a direct violation of the request, and a bewildered Maxine called the police a second time.
On this occasion they were less sympathetic.
“The lady said ‘well what do you want us to do about it, arrest him?’,” Maxine recalls. “Alice’s exact words to me were ‘How serious is it going to be? Is it going to be when he comes round and kills me that they take it seriously?’”
Her words would prove horrifyingly accurate: three nights later, on Friday October 12 2016, Harry Dhillon once more made the round trip from his home to visit Alice.
Dhillon was sentenced to 22 years for Alice’s murder
Sometime after 5.30pm, he broke into her flat and, after forcing her to the floor, slit her throat six times from behind, leaving her body lying in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor, where her horrified and traumatised flatmate would find it less than an hour later.
Such was the level of violence that barrister Richard Wright QC, who would go on to prosecute Dhillon, describes the scene as “one of the most disturbing I’ve ever seen”.
“Alice was effectively hunted down and executed,” he adds.
Alice’s devastated parents Clive Ruggles and Sue Hills are calling for tougher stalking laws
Dhillon continued to protest his innocence following his arrest, insisting he loved Alice – a pathetic refrain he maintained until his trial, where he pleaded not guilty.
It was, believes Richard Wright, a final attempt to wield some power.
“In my opinion, his killing of Alice was about controlling her ultimately and my view was that he had that trial to exert a final amount of control over Alice and her family,” he says.
Nearly two years on, Alice’s family and friends are still struggling to come to terms with their loss.
They have, though, found some consolation in the prospect of new legislation currently going through parliament.
If passed, the Stalking Protection Bill will mean police can issue Stalking Protection Orders to provide earlier protection for stalking victims.
Stalking can, after all, happen to anyone – as Alice’s grieving family know only too well.
“We didn’t think she was the sort of girl that this sort of thing would happen to,” says Sue.
“We all hope to do as much as we can from now on to learn lessons, to raise awareness – and ultimately to prevent what happened to Alice happening to others.”