Murdered Worthing woman’s family fear they might have to pay Sussex Police’s legal fees

The family of a woman murdered at the hands of her abusive partner fear they could be lumbered with the police’s legal costs in their fight for answers.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 7:04 pm

The courts have allowed the family of Susan Nicholson to pursue their legal bid for a full inquest into her death in April 17, 2011.

They have maintained that Sussex Police failed to protect their daughter, as Trigg had a history of domestic violence against partners – and killed a former girlfriend in 2006.

But they claim the force is against a full inquest – where officers involved in the case can be cross-examined – and will be getting Susan’s family to foot the bill for their legal costs should the police win.

Peter and Elizabeth Skelton with a picture of their daughter Susan Nicholson

These figures amount to £6,000 so far, the family claimed.

Susan’s son Joe, 32, said: “It’s really upsetting that Sussex Police are now fighting to prevent a full inquest into whether they did enough to protect my mother from Trigg. They should be wanting to ensure that they are doing all they can to protect victims of domestic violence like my mother and Caroline Devlin from being killed by their partners.”

Susan, 52, was murdered by Trigg at her flat in Rowlands Road, Worthing. He claimed he accidentally rolled on top of her while they slept.

He evaded justice until Susan’s parents Peter and Elizabeth Skelton spent £10,000 of their life savings getting the case to court.

Caroline Devlin and Susan Nicholson

At a trial in 2017, Trigg was also found guilty of manslaughter against a previous partner, Caroline Devlin, 35, who he killed at her home in Cranworth Road in Worthing on March 26, 2006 – Mother’s Day – while her children slept nearby.

The court heard Trigg had assaulted one partner so badly she was hospitalised – yet police did not initially treat him as a suspect.

After the guilty verdict, the inquests into both Caroline and Susan’s deaths were reopened. Coroner Penelope Schofield concluded that Caroline was unlawfully killed at a short inquest in February 2018 which Sussex Police did not have to attend.

Ms Schofield decided to hold a similar-style inquest for Susan – and it is this decision that her family will be challenging in court. The final hearing will be in the spring, according to lawyers representing the family.

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

Joe said: “My grandparents are in their eighties. They won’t give up until they know they’ve done what they can for my mother. I am very worried that Sussex Police will send them a big bill for their legal costs if they lose this challenge.”

Hundreds of supporters have raised over £3,000 to support the family. To donate, visit

A Sussex Police spokesman said due to legal proceedings they were ‘not in a position to comment at this time’.