Soldier claims ex-girlfriend’s death was ‘self-defence’

Lance Corporal Trimaan Dhillon, also known as Harry, has appeared at Newcastle Crown Court. Picture: North News & Pictures Ltd
Lance Corporal Trimaan Dhillon, also known as Harry, has appeared at Newcastle Crown Court. Picture: North News & Pictures Ltd

A soldier accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend is claiming a combination of “self-defence and accident”, a court has heard.

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But a Home Office pathologist said her findings were “inconsistent” with Lance Corporal Trimaan “Harry” Dhillon’s explanation of how Alice Ruggles died during an unexpected visit to her Gateshead flat last October.

Newcastle Crown Court was told the 2 Scots signaller, based at Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, is claiming in his defence statement that the 24-year-old had scratched him and that he tried to restrain her in a headlock before she came at him with a carving knife and it ended up lodged in her neck.

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said Dhillon, 26, had first told police he had not gone into the flat, but his story changed when it was disclosed that Miss Ruggles’ blood had been found on his Help For Heroes wristband and the steering wheel of his BMW.

In the defence statement, Dhillon denies murder but admits he was the only person with her when she died, the jury heard.

• READ MORE: Soldier ‘had ex-girlfriend fearing for her life’, court told

Mr Wright said Dhillon claims it was a “combination of self-defence and accident”.

The defendant claims they had a row in the yard, that he climbed through a window to get into the flat and tried to find clothes belonging to him, and that Miss Ruggles came at him with a carving knife.

Dhillon says he put her in a headlock and she collapsed in the bathroom, falling on some scales and cutting her nose.

Later, he claims she grabbed the knife again when he told her he was going to meet a woman in Durham.

And she lunged at him, hitting her head on the sink, he claims.

In the struggle, Dhillon claims she suffered a loss of balance and, as they came together, the momentum pushed the knife into the side of her throat.

As she fell, it was pushed further in, his defence case states.

By this stage, she was bleeding heavily, and the Special Forces hopeful then says he suffered a flashback to a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

He tried to pull the knife out, but it was stuck at first, he claims.

He heard gurgling noises and he panicked, he says.

Dhillon drove back to his barracks near Edinburgh, contemplating suicide, his statement says.

Pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton found Miss Ruggles’ neck had been sliced or slashed at least six times, leaving a wound that was 4.7in (120mm) long and gaped 1.2in (30mm) wide.

• READ MORE: Soldier’s ‘harassed’ girlfriend was ‘palmed off’ by police

She said it severed the carotid artery, her windpipe and voice box and cut through to her spine.

Miss Ruggles also suffered a deep cut to the tip of her nose, and there was evidence that she had been knelt on, the pathologist said.

There were also cuts to her hands which appeared to be defence injuries, Dr Bolton said.

Her injuries were “unsurvivable”, she told the court.

The pathologist said Dhillon’s defence statement claims were “broadly inconsistent” with her findings.

The jury has heard how the pair had an intense relationship which Miss Ruggles, who was from Leicestershire, ended after she discovered evidence of his infidelity.

Dhillon visited her home despite her contacting police and gaining an official warning for him to keep away.

After he was arrested in Edinburgh, Mr Wright said Dhillon told police: “She was concerned about guys like him killing their girlfriends.”

The trial continues.

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