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Murder victim's harassment fears 'palmed off by police'

Soldier Trimaan Dhillon is accused of killing Alice Ruggles in Gateshead last year.

Alice Ruggles: Sky worker died in Gateshead.
Alice Ruggles: Sky worker died in Gateshead.

A murder victim was "palmed off" by police when she complained about harassment by her ex-boyfriend days before her death, a court has heard.

Lance corporal Trimaan "Harry" Dhillon, 26, is accused of slashing Alice Ruggles' neck from ear to ear and leaving her to bleed to death in the bathroom of her flat in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, last October.

Police found an oriental tribal mask in her bedroom after her housemate Maxine McGill came home to discover her horrifically injured, Newcastle Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

The jury has heard how Ms Ruggles contacted police after she split up with the Royal Regiment of Scotland soldier and he continued to contact her, including travelling to Tyneside from barracks outside Edinburgh to knock on her door, tap on her window and leave flowers and chocolates on the sill late at night.

On his drive back he insisted in a voicemail message he did not intend to kill her, jurors were told.

He received an official warning and was told by his commanding officer to stay away, the court heard.

Five days before her death, Dhillon allegedly sent Ms Ruggles a parcel containing a letter, photos and a notebook.

Court: Dhillon is on trial in Newcastle.
Court: Dhillon is on trial in Newcastle. PA

Ms Ruggles rang 101, Ms McGill said but was unable to speak to the first officer who had originally dealt with her and discussed it with an operator instead.

Ms McGill, who was also a colleague of 24-year-old Ms Ruggles at Sky in Newcastle, told the court: "She says she felt as if it was palmed off.

"She was asked the question: What do you want us to do about it?

"She said 'I don't know, that's why I am phoning you. I was asked to get back in touch if I had any further contact'. She basically says it was just a waste of time."

The court has heard she was asked if she wanted Dhillon arrested but she decided not to take that step.

Ms McGill, who moved from Glasgow to Tyneside to work for Sky as a team leader, said Dhillon "almost creeped me out" when she met him because he was "overly nice".

She came to find him controlling, manipulative and possessive around Ms Ruggles, whose behaviour changed when she was with him.

Their relationship declined after Ms Ruggles found Dhillon had been messaging other women on dating sites, Ms McGill said.

"Alice became an introvert, physically shaking, anxiety, skinny, she lost so much weight. She was pale."
Maxine McGill on Alice Ruggles

He used emotional blackmail to try to get her back, then threatened to release sexual photos of her, Ms McGill said. 

The messages caused Ms Ruggles distress, her friend told the court.

"Alice became an introvert, physically shaking, anxiety, skinny, she lost so much weight. She was pale."

Ms McGill tearfully explained how she found her friend after hopping over a wall into the backyard and climbing into the ground floor flat through an open window.

She called "Alice" several times through the letter box, having found the front door locked.

"I was just about to give up, something was just not right, I just couldn't shake the feeling and I started to panic," she said.

She cried as she remembered getting in, finding her phone and being about to ring her friend to have "a bit of a row" about leaving the window open before she saw her body.

"It stopped me in me in my tracks, I just ran to her," Ms McGill said. 

"The first thing I noticed was the amount of blood that was everywhere."

The witness said she thought Ms Ruggles' legs looked broken.

She said: "As soon as I saw her, I knew she was dead. She was changing colour and the amount of blood that was everywhere."

The jury has heard Ms Ruggles was from Leicestershire and decided to stay in Newcastle after taking a degree in product design at Northumbria University.

She was promoted to site coordinator for Sky having worked in customer services.

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