Probe into police's handling of Alice's warnings; victim had reported that she feared ex partner.
AN independent investigation will examine whether police could have protected Alice Ruggles from the obsessive killer who stalked and ultimately murdered her.
Northumbria University graduate Alice was killed by abusive expartner Lance Corporal Trimaan Dhillon, 26, in October last year.
At Dhillon's trial, Newcastle Crown Court heard how his controlling behaviour left her terrified, after she attempted to end their relationship.
The 24-year-old had sought help from Northumbria Police days before Dhillon climbed through a window of her Bensham flat, killing her in "one final act of dominance and control".
The IPCC probe comes after an internal inquiry carried out by the force shed light on some "potential conduct matters".
It will examine how the force responded to Alice's complaints in the days before her death.
Following Dhillon's conviction, in April, a domestic violence charity said Alice might still be alive if things had been handled differently. Polly Neate, chief executive of Women's Aid, said: "If Alice had been treated as the expert in her case by the police, and if her complaints had been taken seriously, she may have been able to get the right help at the right time."
IPCC commission delegate Ian Tolan said: "The IPCC received a referral from Northumbria Police after a Domestic Homicide Review of their investigation into Alice's murder. The referral identified some potential conduct matters and, following careful assessment, an independent investigation is now under way.
"The specific details around the scope of the investigation, which is in its early stages, are still being finalised but it will look at the force's response following Alice's initial call to police regarding stalking and harassment by Trimaan Dhillon.
"Though rare there are occasions when, following a local investigation, we feel a matter requires further consideration and it would be appropriate to investigate this independently."
Scared Alice had spoken to police twice in the weeks leading up to her death. After the first call, Dhillon was handed a Police Information Notice warning him to leave her alone. When she called back after he ignored this warning and sent her a parcel, she was asked whether she wanted him arrested and, worried he would lose his job, she said no.
She told her sister Emma she felt "palmed off " by police.
Acting Deputy Chief Constable Darren Best said: "Our thoughts remain very much with Alice's family after their devastating loss.
"The man responsible for Alice's death is now behind bars for a very long time and I hope this can bring some small amount of solace for them. Following Alice's death, we immediately referred ourselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. This is appropriate practice in relation to previous contact with police if there has been a death and we did so willingly. The IPCC requested we investigate this matter ourselves and our findings were returned to them.
"As a matter of complete openness and transparency, we again self-referred to the IPCC following the interim findings of a domestic homicide review into Alice's death."
Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said: "I do not think that the family or the public would accept that investigations by the police into themselves are the correct way forward in such a serious and extremely saddening case. I wish that the IPCC had taken responsibility in the first place, but I thank them for doing so now."
Trimaan "Harry" Dhillon
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Oct 10, 2017|
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