Sussex

Susan Nicholson inquest: Family want police answers

Caroline Devlin (left) and Susan Nicholson (right) Image copyright Family handouts
Image caption Jurors were told there were similarities between the cases of Caroline Devlin (left) and Susan Nicholson

The family of a murdered woman are launching a legal challenge to force a coroner to hold a full inquest, covering police "failings" in the case.

Susan Nicholson was killed by Robert Trigg in 2011, five years after he had killed his previous partner, Caroline Devlin, in similar circumstances.

Sussex Police initially failed to treat the two deaths as suspicious until Ms Nicholson's family found more evidence.

Her son said: "We want to be able to hold the police officers to account."

Trigg, 54, was jailed for life in 2017 for the murder of Ms Nicholson and manslaughter of Ms Devlin at their homes in Worthing, West Sussex.

Lewes Crown Court heard it was only after Ms Nicholson's parents hired professionals to re-examine the original pathologist's report that the case went to court.

An independent police inquiry identified "missed opportunities" in the original probe by Sussex Police, who are now being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Robert Trigg behaved in similar ways after killing both his partners in similar ways, his trial heard

At least two officers were involved in the investigations into both killings, but the similarities between the cases were not regarded as suspicious.

Both women had suffered domestic violence during their relationships with Trigg, the court heard, but police initially took no action after post-mortem examinations did not identify any suspicious circumstances.

After the intervention of Ms Nicholson's parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, a third examination concluded their daughter was suffocated, and Ms Devlin killed by a blow to the back of her head.

Image caption Elizabeth and Peter Skelton want investigating officers to answer their questions

The family's lawyer says the West Sussex coroner plans a short inquest into their daughter's death but the family have set up a fundraising appeal to enable them to ask the High Court for a full hearing that would cover the police involvement.

Her son Joe said: "I want the police officers to be on the stand and answer questions about why they didn't do more to stop Trigg from murdering her."

Sussex Police have apologised to both families.

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