Killer Robert Trigg involved in 13 domestic incidents before he killed two Worthing partners, inquest told

Police were called out to 13 separate domestic incidents involving a man who went on to kill two of his then-partners, an inquest has heard.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 2:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 3:02 pm

A fresh inquest is being held at West Sussex Coroner’s Court into the murder of Susan Nicholson, 52, who was killed by Robert Trigg in 2011.

Trigg, 54, was jailed for life in 2017 for the murder of then-partner Ms Nicholson and manslaughter of his previous partner Caroline Devlin in similar circumstances.

Both women were killed at their homes in Worthing, five years apart, but neither death was initially deemed suspicious by Sussex Police.

Robert Trigg, pictured arriving at Lewes Crown Court when he was found guilty of murder and manslaughter. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

The coroner at the original inquest found Ms Nicholson’s death to be accidental.

Following Trigg being found guilty, the High Court overturned the findings of the inquest and ordered a new one be carried out.

Ms Nicholson’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton – who have campaigned for a decade for their daughter’s death to be adequately investigated, appealed to the High Court for a fuller inquest into potential ‘police failings’.

At the opening of the hearing yesterday, a jury of 12 men and women were told they would have to determine not only the cause and manner of Ms Nicholson’s death, but what the police knew at the time.

Peter and Elizabeth Skelton with a picture of their daughter Susan Nicholson SUS-171107-110442001

A timeline of events read out to the court by the coroner’s officer revealed police had been attending reports where Trigg was verbally or physically abusing women since 2003.

Between 2003 and 2005, officers were called five times to incidents involving Trigg abusing his then-partner.

The following year on March 26, Mother’s Day, Ms Devlin was found dead in her bedroom of the house where she lived with her four children. Trigg, her boyfriend at the time, said he had found her unresponsive but did not call the emergency services.

Police ruled the death as non-suspicious, and a post-mortem examination concluded Ms Devlin had died of natural causes.

In the years between 2006 and 2010, police were called on another five occasions reporting Trigg’s violent behaviour towards two other women.

Trigg began a relationship with Ms Nicholson and moved in with her in 2010. From then until her death on April 27, 2011, police were called another three times.

Police attended the address after a neighbour heard a loud verbal argument lasting two hours and a massive bang.

On March 24, police attended Ms Nicholson’s home after it was reported Trigg punched her in the face

The next occasion, which saw officers respond to a report by a neighbour who had heard ongoing arguments, noted Ms Nicholson had two black eyes and cuts. Trigg was given a formal caution.

Ms Nicholson was found dead in her home on April 27. Trigg was at the home but had not called for an ambulance. Police did not treat Trigg as a suspect but instead as a significant witness.

Statements from Ms Devlin’s family were read out in court all of which recall her as being a ‘cheerful’ and ‘happy’ person. But some said she had become withdrawn in the weeks before her death.

And her niece Zoe Watson recalled seeing Trigg be violent towards her aunt, and that when she asked Ms Devlin about it, she said ‘he has done it before and he will do it again’.

Talking about upcoming plans for her 40th birthday, Ms Devlin added: “I won’t make my 40th.”

Pc Darren Milledge, who was the first officer at the scene, gave evidence in court and told the jury how he thought the position Ms Devlin was found in was ‘unusual’.

She had been found in a kneeling position with her head at the foot-end of the bed. According to Trigg, she had stayed in this position after having sexual intercourse the night before.

Police forensic adviser Dr Richard Haworth was also called to give evidence and said he was ‘puzzled’ by Ms Devlin’s position and her young age, but had told police he believed she had died from a cardiac event.

The inquest continues.