Family of murdered Worthing woman will go to High Court for answers about police’s handling of case

A High Court battle for answers about Sussex Police’s handling of a murder case is set to take place, having been delayed due to the lockdown.

Susan Nicholson was murdered on April 17, 2011 by double-killer Robert Trigg, who is serving 25 years in prison.

Her parents want a full inquest into her death, in order to question police officers involved about what could have been done to prevent it.

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Susan’s family said the coroner for West Sussex refused to hold a full inquest with witnesses.

Susan Nicholson, aged 27

The legal challenge, called a judicial review, was due to take place at the Royal Courts of Justice in March.

But it was delayed due to the pandemic and is now set to be heard remotely on Tuesday (October 6), finishing on Thursday (October 8). Trigg was known to police for a history of violence against women, hospitalising a girlfriend and another partner, Caroline Devlin, dying while sharing a bed with him.

The police had been called to Susan’s flat at least three times in the weeks before her death following reports of violence, her family said.

But this was not treated as suspicious by police and Trigg only faced justice after a six-year fight by Susan’s parents.

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

Sussex Police have now argued to the court that the judicial review should be dismissed. They have also indicated that they will claim their legal costs from Susan’s parents if the legal challenge is unsuccessful. This bill so far is over £6,000.

Robert Trigg himself has also joined in. He has written to the court arguing that the new inquest should look again at whether he was responsible for Susan’s death, even though he has already been convicted of her murder. His intervention is an obvious attempt to undo his conviction, the lawyers representing Susan’s family said.

This means that if they lose the challenge Susan’s parents could face a bill for the legal costs not only of Sussex Police, but also coroner, and even Trigg.

Susan’s father Peter said: “I see this hearing as an opportunity to make sure that there is a proper inquiry into whether Susan’s death could have been prevented. Sussex Police had all the information about Trigg’s history of violence against Susan and other women. They knew that Caroline had died while in bed with him.

“Even after Susan’s neighbour called the police and they found Susan with injuries to her face, they didn’t see that he was a danger to her.

“We want to ask the officers what they did to protect Susan, and we had hoped that Sussex Police would want their officers to be alert to the dangers faced by victims of domestic violence and protecting them properly.

“We are hurt and disappointed that they have chosen to fight our challenge instead, and that they want us to pay their legal costs if we lose.”

To donate to the family’s crowd funding page, click here.