Siblings of student who took her own life after abuse can sue ex-boyfriend

The siblings of a student who took her own life after a campaign of abuse from her ex-boyfriend have been given permission to sue him.

Law student Emily Drouet, 18, was found dead in her halls of residence at Aberdeen University on March 18 2016, which her family alleged occurred “minutes” after her on-off boyfriend Angus Milligan had left her room.

The couple met in their first term in September 2015, but Miss Drouet’s family feared their relationship was “toxic”, and after her death were inundated with messages from friends about the abuse the “compassionate” student had hidden from them.

Eight years after her family first consulted a solicitor about their concerns about Milligan’s “conduct and behaviour”, a judge at the Court of Session granted permission for Miss Drouet’s siblings, Calvin and Rachel, to sue him by “showing that Angus Milligan caused her death”.

Milligan was prosecuted for assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and indecent communication and pleaded guilty in 2017 and was sentenced at Aberdeen Sheriff Court to community service.

Miss Drouet (pictured) was described as “kind and caring”, and her family including her siblings, parents and grandparents, launched a bid to “get justice” through the civil courts, alleging Milligan subjected her to coercive control.

In January 2016, Miss Drouet learned Milligan was cheating on her, and they split up, before their relationship became “open”.

Court documents said: “They hold Mr Milligan responsible for her death. They describe his behaviour towards Emily as coercive and controlling.

“They say he deliberately carried out a course of conduct in which he inflicted physical assaults on Emily, verbal abuse and displays of anger towards her, all with the intention of causing her physical harm and severe mental and emotional distress.

“Her resulting psychiatric illness, the pursuers say, caused her to take her own life.

“They seek damages to compensate them for the distress and anxiety endured by them in contemplation of Emily’s suffering before her death, for their grief and sorrow caused by Emily’s death, and for such loss of society and guidance as they might have been expected to derive from Emily had she not died.”

The night before her death Miss Drouet had been denied entry to a club after Milligan spoke to a bouncer, and eight days before on March 10, she had been “strangled to the point of passing out” by him, according to Court of Session documents.

She was also facing a warning from the university after her attendance slumped, and had told a friend that Milligan threatened to disclose knowledge of a sex act she was “ashamed” of, to her mother, Fiona Drouet, who has campaigned for better education around abuse.

Four days after Miss Drouet’s death, her family contacted the Crown Office by email and wrote: “We have been sent copies of text messages from Emily’s friends/flatmates showing her boyfriend, Angus Milligan, was involved in psychological abuse and other evidence showing he was in her room only minutes before she died.”

Shortly afterwards, her family consulted a solicitor about their concerns regarding Milligan’s “conduct and behaviour towards the deceased”, including “any direct involvement in her death”.

Miss Drouet’s family alleged she confided to a flatmate that she “couldn’t go on” the day before her death, and was also attacked on March 16 and March 10.

In April 2016, Mrs Drouet said her daughter would “have to (have been) harmed psychologically to take her own life”.

Her children, Calvin and Rachel, were given permission to take legal action against Milligan, because the adult relative’s actions were time-barred.

Lord Harrower wrote: “The Drouets’ primary goal is to get “some form of justice for what Mr Milligan did to Emily”, and that this involves “showing that Angus Milligan caused her death”.

“Whether or not that was truly the case is a question that will be determined in the children’s action, assuming it proceeds.

“Taking all the circumstances into account, in what I acknowledge is a finely balanced decision, I have come to the conclusion that there are insufficiently cogent grounds to allow the adult claims to proceed.”

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