THE father of a young woman who was brutally murdered by her obsessive ex-boyfriend has emphasised the need for more awareness over the seriousness of stalking.

Alice Ruggles was just 24 when her throat was slit by her soldier ex-boyfriend Trimaan Dhillon at her Gateshead flat in 2016.

The murder, described in court as an act of ‘utter barbarism’, was the culmination of three-months of stalking by Dhillon after Alice had ended their relationship.

The Northern Echo:

Trimaan Dhillon

During the stalking campaign, Alice contacted Northumbria Police twice but despite being given a harassment warning by officers, Dhillon went on to murder her and was later sentenced to life in prison.

Speaking at the North Yorkshire and York Safeguarding conference in Harrogate on Tuesday, Alice’s father Clive Ruggles said he wanted to ensure that allegations of stalking were taken more seriously by the police and relevant agencies - and by the victims themselves too.

He said that terms such as ‘facebook stalking’ - often used in light-hearted reference to monitoring a person’s social media account - are unhelpful as they can dilute the seriousness of actual stalking and the devastating consequences it can have for victims.

The Northern Echo:

Clive Ruggles

He said: “It is not unusual to think like Alice did; that if someone is being a bit obsessive like that they are eventually going to give up and move on if you ignore them for long enough.

“But a lot of research has been done that shows that when it becomes a fixation, an obsession, they will not move on and their behaviour can escalate - it becomes a challenge.”

Mr Ruggles said there was a clear distinction between an emotional person trying to rekindle a failed relationship and the ‘nasty and relentless’ stalking that Alice endured at the hands of Dhillon.

He said: “Who has not in their lifetime probably been in a situation where a relationship ends and you spend a few days trying to get that person back, to try and resurrect the relationship?

“But most people move on quite quickly because they have actually got the best interests of that person at heart. People themselves need to understand more about what is dangerous behaviour.

“If a person is making you feel distressed, let alone fearful, you really should be doing something about it.”

Since Alice’s death, the Alice Ruggles Trust formed to raise awareness of stalking and Mr Ruggles said he was keen to share his story with professionals at the Safeguarding conference at Pavilions of Harrogate which brought together agencies including the police, council and health services.

And although it is too late for Alice, Mr Ruggles is hopeful that better systems can be implemented by the police and partner agencies to tackle stalking crimes before they reach potentially fatal conclusions.

He said: “I never felt anger (towards the police) and I don’t know whether I was just numbed by what had happened.

“I suppose I would feel angry if no-one was interested in changing things, but they really are.”