The family of a Worthing woman murdered by double killer Robert Trigg have launched a legal bid for a full inquest into her death to be held.
Susan Nicholson was murdered in 2011 by her partner Robert Trigg, five years after he killed his previous partner Caroline Devlin.
Susan’s family believe Sussex Police should have been aware that her life was in danger and failed to protect her – which would have breached her right to life under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act.
Her parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, and her sons, Joe and Marc Nicholson, want a full ‘Article 2’ inquest to be held into her death.
They said police had been called to Susan’s flat six times in the weeks before her death following reports of violence.
The family claim police were aware that Trigg had a long history of violence against women – causing one former partner to be hospitalised after he brutally assaulted her.
They were also aware that Trigg’s former partner Caroline Devlin had died in bed with him five years before, but they had concluded that she had died of natural causes, they said.
Trigg was only convicted of the murder of Susan and the manslaughter of Caroline in July, 2017, after six years of fighting by Susan’s parents, who eventually hired a forensic pathologist who concluded Susan had been suffocated.
After Trigg’s conviction, the High Court quashed the original inquest and ordered a new one.
At a pre-inquest review into Susan’s death, held in Crawley in March, the family’s solicitor accused Sussex Police of ‘significant failures’ and said Susan’s death was ‘avoidable’.
The inquest was adjourned but, according to Susan’s family, the West Sussex Senior Coroner has now ruled that there will only be a short inquest into Susan’s death.
They are raising funds in order to launch judicial review proceedings to challenge the coroner’s refusal to hold a long inquest.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct carried out an investigation into Sussex Police’s handling of the Trigg case.
According to Susan’s family, it found that police ‘missed opportunities’ when investigating the women’s deaths.
Peter, Susan’s father, said he did not believe Sussex Police did enough to protect his daughter.
He said: “We need to get to the truth as to whether our daughter was failed and whether Sussex Police recognised the danger that Trigg posed.”
Alice Hardy, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who is representing the family, said: “If it wasn’t for the determination and strength of my clients Robert Trigg would never have been brought to justice.
“While he is now in prison, there remain many unanswered questions as to whether they investigated Caroline Devlin’s death properly and whether they protected Susan. The only way we can get to the truth is with a full Article 2 inquest.
“As the coroner has refused this request we have been left with no option but to commence judicial review proceedings.”
Sussex Police and West Sussex County Council, on behalf of the coroner, declined to comment.
[https://www.worthingherald.co.uk/news/crime/watchdog-will-investigate-sussex-police-s-conduct-in-trigg-case-1-8388133|Watchdog will investigate Sussex Police’s conduct in Trigg case}