Robert Trigg told police to arrest him after beating ex-partner, inquest told

·3 min read

A man who killed two of his partners “beat the hell” out of a previous girlfriend and then told police to arrest him because he was going to kill her, an inquest heard.

Susan Holland said that Robert Trigg had beaten her so badly he had left her unconscious and she had spent around three weeks in hospital.

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

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

A fresh inquest into the murder of Ms Nicholson at West Sussex Coroner’s Court heard that Ms Holland had met Trigg around 2002.

In a statement read to the court on Tuesday Ms Holland said that when Trigg was nice he was “very nice, but when he was bad he was horrid”.

She said on one occasion he had beaten her so badly she was knocked unconscious and added: “He beat the hell out of me and knocked me out.

“No one was around when I woke up.

“The next thing I remember the police came because Robert had called them and said ‘I am going to kill her, you need to arrest me’.”

She said she did not press charges because she was pregnant.

Robert Trigg inquiry
Robert Trigg’s victim Susan Nicholson, aged 27 with her first son Joe (Family handout/PA)

Following Trigg being found guilty, the High Court overturned the original inquest into Ms Nicholson’s death, which found it to be accidental, and ordered a new one be carried out.

Ms Nicholson’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton – who have campaigned for a decade for their daughter’s death to be adequately investigated – appealed to the High Court for a fuller inquest into potential “police failings”.

At the hearing on Monday, the jury was told they would have to determine not only the cause and manner of Ms Nicholson’s death, but what the police knew at the time.

A timeline of events read out to the court by the coroner’s officer revealed police had been attending reports where Trigg was verbally or physically abusing women since 2003.

Between 2003 and 2005, officers were called five times to incidents involving Trigg abusing Ms Holland.

The following year on March 26, Mother’s Day, Ms Devlin was found dead in her bedroom at the house where she lived with her four children. Trigg, her boyfriend at the time, said he had found her unresponsive but did not call the emergency services.

Police ruled the death as non-suspicious, and a post-mortem examination concluded Ms Devlin had died of natural causes.

Trigg began a relationship with Ms Nicholson and moved in with her in 2010. From then until her death on April 27, 2011, police were called another three times.

Former detective inspector Nigel Brown, who made the decision to classify Ms Devlin’s death as non-suspicious, said while at the time there appeared to be the “potential” for Trigg to be violent to partners, he only had one caution for domestic violence.

Mr Brown said: “If you’re asking me was the fact that Trigg was known to me at the time, which he obviously was, to have had a violent relationship with a previous partner which resulted in him being cautioned for common assault I would have said that that was a potential indicator that I needed to take into account.

“There was obviously potential for violence in his subsequent relationships and therefore Caroline Devlin.”

When asked if he should have looked at other reports of violence carried out by Trigg before making his decision Mr Brown added: “There was a potential for violence in the relationship with Caroline Devlin but no proof of it at that point.

“What it would have done would be to make me far more aware that what we needed to do was focus on the search for evidence at the scene.”

The inquest continues.

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