COUNTY NEWS: Police apologise to families of women killed by former partner

Robert Trigg has been handed a life sentence. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
Robert Trigg has been handed a life sentence. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

Sussex Police have apologised to the families of two women killed by a former partner five years apart.

Robert Trigg, 52, formerly of Park Crescent, Worthing, was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday (July 5) of the murder of Susan Nicholson and the manslaughter of Caroline Devlin five years earlier.

The prosecution, authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), followed re-investigation of the deaths by officers from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team during 2016, according to police.

The court heard that in 2006 there were police enquiries into the death of Caroline Devlin but a post mortem found her death to have resulted from natural causes. There was therefore no inquest into this death.

Following a post mortem and a police investigation in 2011, a coroner’s inquest was held, and found the death of Susan Nicholson to have been accidental.

However the new investigation started after a further forensic assessment of Susan Nicholson’s death was received last year by Sussex Police from her parents.

Families of both women were kept informed about the new investigation.

Sussex Police said they were sorry for ‘not presenting all the facts before the Crown Prosecution Service’

Detective Superintendent Tanya Jones, who led the new investigation, said: “This has been a distressing experience for both families, who have followed developments closely throughout, and who attended the trial. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with them.

“Both deaths were investigated by officers at the time, and post mortems were carried out. There was also a public inquest into the death of Susan Nicholson.

“The forensic information available in each case at the times of the deaths did not provide any avenues for further investigation. However, we were presented with new evidence by the parents of Susan Nicholson, after they commissioned the assessment of a third pathologist who in 2015 examined the findings in the case of Susan Nicholson. On this fresh information we carried out a new and thorough investigation, including both deaths. We then put the facts to the CPS who authorised prosecution.

“The court heard evidence from the two original pathologists, plus the third pathologist, as well as evidence on behalf of the defence from a fourth pathologist, before reaching a verdict in this complex case.

“I am confident that we have done everything we can to deliver justice for both women and their families.”

“Sussex Police are sorry that we had not presented all the facts before the CPS previously but we have now thoroughly investigated both cases.

“The force will consider conducting an internal review of both cases but we have also referred the case to the West Sussex Community Partnership for them to consider the most appropriate type of multi-agency review to ensure any lessons are learnt following the outcome of the trial.”

Trigg is due to be sentenced on Thursday (July 6).