05 July 2021

Jury considers whether police failings contributed to death of Susan Nicholson

05 July 2021

Jurors examining possible police failings over the death of a woman at the hands of killer Robert Trigg have retired to consider their conclusions.

A fresh inquest is being held into the murder of Susan Nicholson 52, who was killed by Trigg in 2011, five years after he had killed another woman.

The jury is considering a number of questions, including whether a lack of action by Sussex Police caused the death of Ms Nicholson.

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

Robert Trigg inquiry (PA Media)

On Monday, jurors in Crawley retired to consider their answers to a number of questions in relation to Ms Nicholson’s death, including possible failings by Sussex Police.

The panel of 12 men and women have been told they must determine not only the cause and manner of Ms Nicholson’s death, but what the police knew at the time.

They will deliver conclusions on whether a possible lack of action by police caused or contributed to Ms Nicholson’s death.

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

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

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

Jurors were given a series of questions to answer in order to assess the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms Nicholson.

This included whether the decision to declare the death of Caroline Devlin unexplained, and not to launch a homicide investigation, was a significant failure, and if this caused or contributed to the death of Ms Nicholson.

They were also asked whether the decision by the pathologist (instructed by the coroner) not to refer the death of Ms Devlin to a Home Office forensic pathologist, when they were unable to find the site of any ruptured aneurysm, was a significant failure, and if this caused or contributed to the death of Susan Nicholson.

Jurors are also considering whether Sussex Police knew or ought reasonably to have known that Trigg posed a real and immediate risk to Ms Nicholson’s life before she was killed.

If they conclude that the force did know, or ought reasonably to have known, the jury must assess whether they took reasonable measures and if not, whether this caused or contributed to the death of Susan Nicholson.

The inquest continues.

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