Police misconduct contributed to Susan Nicholson’s death Brighton News

POLICE misconduct caused or contributed to Susan Nicholson’s death at the hands of killer Robert Trigg, a jury found.

Jurors found that Sussex Police failed to take reasonable steps to prevent Ms Nicholson from being injured, despite knowing or reasonably should have known that there was a “real and immediate risk” for his life.

In a statement after the investigation, her parents said they were “satisfied and relieved” by the jury’s findings, adding that they felt “ignored and criticized” by police.

The Argus: Susan's parents Peter and Elizabeth Skelton outside the Crawley investigation.  Photo date: Monday July 5, 2021. PA Photo.  Susan Nicholson, 52, was murdered by Robert Trigg in 2011, five years after killing her former partner, Caroline.

The 52-year-old was murdered by Trigg in 2011, five years after killing his former partner, Caroline Devlin.

The two women were killed at their home in Worthing, five years apart, but neither were initially deemed suspicious by Sussex police.

The coroner at the initial inquest concluded that Ms Nicholson’s death was accidental.

After Trigg was found guilty of murdering the two women, the High Court quashed the original investigation into Ms Nicholson’s death and ordered a new one.

At Monday’s inquest, Crawley jurors read their responses to a number of questions regarding Ms Nicholson’s death, including possible Sussex Police misconduct.


It included what the police knew at the time and whether a lack of action contributed to his death at Trigg’s hands.

Ms Nicholson’s parents Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, who campaigned for a decade to have their daughter’s death properly investigated, were in court to hear the verdicts.

The jury found that Sussex Police knew or reasonably should have known that Trigg posed a real and immediate risk to Ms Nicholson’s life.


They also found that the force did not take the action that could reasonably be expected of them and that this caused or contributed to Ms Nicholson’s death.

Jurors also ruled that the decision to declare Ms Devlin’s death unexplained and / or not to open a homicide investigation was a major failure.

They said there was a “realistic possibility” that Ms Nicholson’s death could have been avoided had Ms Devlin’s death been reported and investigated as a suspect.

The jury was also asked whether the pathologist’s decision (on the coroner’s direction) not to refer Ms Devlin’s death to a Home Office forensic pathologist, when he could not find the site of ‘ruptured aneurysm, was a significant failure, and whether it caused or contributed to Ms Nicholson’s death.

They found that this was a significant failure and that it caused or contributed to his death.

In a statement after the inquest, Mr. and Mrs. Skelton said: “This investigation explored the failures of the police to protect Susan and adequately investigate the death of Caroline Devlin.

“We are happy and relieved that the jury recognized what seemed obvious to us; that the police did not do enough to protect Susan, nor enough to investigate Caroline’s death.

“It took six years for Trigg to be prosecuted for the murder of our daughter Susan and the manslaughter of Caroline.

“Throughout this period, when we were mostly acting on our own without legal representation, we tried again and again to persuade the Sussex Police to properly investigate Susan’s death.

“We were ignored and criticized. We were treated as a nuisance and that meant we were lying or being obsessive.

“Instead of enjoying our retirement years, we suffered mental torture for over a decade fighting for justice for Susan.

“Our efforts over the ten years since Susan’s death have not made this process or outcome any less painful.

“We hope that Sussex Police will reflect on all of the jury’s findings and ensure that victims of domestic violence and their families are treated better in the future.”

Following the investigation, Deputy Police Chief Fiona Macpherson said: “Susan’s family and friends have waited a long time to hear all of the facts surrounding her death and our thoughts remain with them and the family. of Caroline, in this difficult period.

“Following the apology the former police chief presented to families in 2017, I apologize for the failures of the force in relation to the deaths of Caroline Devlin and Susan Nicholson.

As the coroner noted in her closing remarks, Sussex Police have made dramatic changes and improvements to the way they respond to domestic violence cases in the ten years since Susan’s death.

“The lessons learned from these two cases were used as part of our work to fundamentally revise our policies during this period.

“We respect the jury’s conclusions, and we must now pause to think about it before deciding on any further action.”

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This notice was published: 2021-07-05 16:10:07

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