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27 April 2017, 15:32
The mother of a young woman who was murdered by her stalker ex-boyfriend has spoken of her guilt at telling her daughter to ignore him and he would go away.
Alice Ruggles' parents have spoken out to warn other families of the warning signs displayed by coercive and controlling partners after her killer was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday.
Jealous Lance Corporal Trimaan "Harry'' Dhillon, who was based at barracks in Midlothian, will serve at least 22 years behind bars for breaking into her Gateshead flat in October and cutting her throat from ear to ear.
The 24-year-old Sky employee had twice complained to police in the days before the obsessed 2 Scots signaller committed what the judge called an act of utter barbarism.
Teacher Dr Sue Hills said she had spoken to her daughter two days before, reassuring her the police knew what they were doing, and that if she ignored him, Dhillon would leave her alone.
She said: "I had only put the phone down for 10 minutes and Emma (Alice's older sister) rang and said 'Mum, you cannot tell that to her, he's going to kill her, you have to do something. I'm thinking of having time off work to stay with her'.
"I thought she was over-reacting.
"I said 'don't be silly, he won't do that', I thought that didn't happen.''
When police arrived at their home in Leicestershire at 2am to tell them their daughter had been attacked, Miss Ruggles' parents immediately knew Dhillon was responsible.
Dr Hills said: "I felt such a sense of guilt for having told Alice not to worry and told Emma not to be silly.
"If I hadn't said that, Alice might still be alive.''
The family have set up the Alice Ruggles Trust to support charities such as the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Women's Aid, and plan to educate others about the danger signs.
Dr Hills said: "It's my job to carry on to help Emma and my other children and ultimately to help other parents and other girls, and not say don't to be silly, because it's not being silly at all, it's being realistic.''
Alice's father, Professor Clive Ruggles, in a pooled interview for the BBC, urged people concerned about someone they knew to study cases detailed on the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website about stalking.
He said: "I think Alice herself did not realise at the time how much of a victim she was.
"I don't think she realised how serious this was in those earlier stages, certainly we didn't and yet there were many, many signs there.''