Man on trial for killing girlfriends is ‘capable of instinctive violence’

Robert Trigg arrives Lewes Crown Court before his murder trial. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
Robert Trigg arrives Lewes Crown Court before his murder trial. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

A man from Worthing is on trial for allegedly killing two of his partners five years apart.

Robert Trigg is charged with the manslaughter of Caroline Devlin, whose body was found on Mothers’ Day in 2006, and the murder of his partner Susan Nicholson in 2011. He has denied both charges.

On Tuesday at Lewes Crown Court, the prosecution set out their case against Trigg, who is from Park Crescent in Worthing.

Duncan Atkinson QC said it was ‘unlikely in the extreme’ that both women could die of natural causes – as was found at inquests after their deaths – and in similar circumstances while sleeping with him.

Mr Atkinson described him as ‘possessive, controlling and jealous’: “It shows that Trigg was capable of behaving with instinctive and almost spontaneous violence towards those women with whom he was in a relationship – the type of instinctive and spontaneous violence that led first Miss Devlin and then Miss Nicholson to their deaths.”

The court heard how mother-of-four Miss Devlin, 35, was found face down at the opposite end of the bed to the pillows at her home in Cranworth Road, Worthing, on March 26, 2006, the morning of Mother’s Day, while her daughter prepared to cook her breakfast.

Miss Nicholson, 52, was found dead on a sofa at her flat in Rowlands Road, Worthing, on April 17, 2011.

She had been dead for several hours before Trigg raised the alarm. Trigg claimed he had accidentally smothered her after sleeping on the sofa together following a night of drinking.

The court heard how in both cases, Trigg, 52, did not call 999 when the bodies were discovered.

In the case of Miss Devlin, having slept next to her, he got dressed in the morning and invited her son to check her body before an ambulance was called. After Miss Nicholson died, he bought cigarettes and called his brother and her neighbour, who then called 999.

Post mortem examination at the time suggested the pair died of natural causes – but the causes of death have been reassessed by pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary. The doctor believed Miss Devlin could have been killed by a blow to the back of her neck and having her head deliberately forced into the pillow and said Miss Nicholson’s death was not likely to be accidental.

The court also heard evidence outlined by Mr Atkinson from former partners of Mr Trigg, who all confirmed his violent and jealous behaviour.

In November 2003, more than two years before Ms Devlin’s death, Trigg was cautioned by police for punching and kicking his then-girlfriend Susan Holland in the head and face, which hospitalised her for three weeks.

The case continues.