Help us find out if the police could have stopped our mum’s killer

by Joseph Nicholson

Help us find out if the police could have stopped our mum’s killer

by Joseph Nicholson
Joseph Nicholson
Case Owner
On 17 April 2011 Susan Nicholson was murdered. Her killer was not convicted until 5 July 2017. At the same trial, he was convicted of killing another woman in 2006 in similar circumstances.
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Joseph Nicholson
Case Owner
On 17 April 2011 Susan Nicholson was murdered. Her killer was not convicted until 5 July 2017. At the same trial, he was convicted of killing another woman in 2006 in similar circumstances.
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Latest: Sept. 24, 2020

Hearing

In our last update we let you know that the court had granted permission for our grandparents to continue with their challenge and that a full hearing was due to take place in March 2020.

Unfortunatel…

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We want an inquest to look properly at whether the police could have prevented Susan’s death, so that this does not have to happen to other families.

Who are we?

We are Joe and Marc, Susan’s children. We are joined by our grandparents, Peter and Elizabeth (mum’s parents). We are completely bereft at the loss of our wonderful mum. Losing a parent while we were young adults was devastating, as it would be for anyone. It has been made worse by what we learnt since her death. Sussex Police knew that mum’s killer had a history of domestic violence towards women. They knew he had a previous partner who died in similar circumstances. They knew he had been violent to our mum. We want to know if they did enough to protect her. Our family has spent years fighting for justice. We want to know that if the police did let mum down, enough has been done to investigate what went wrong, so that this can never happen again.

We are determined to find out whether our mum’s death could have been prevented and what went wrong if so. We want to know if changes are needed to protect other people, particularly vulnerable women, from men with a known history of domestic violence. This is only possible through a full and thorough inquest.

Mum's Story

Our mum Susan was a force to be reckoned with! She was full of energy and life. She had worked for a big bank in London and been very successful professionally – but when she had us she moved to a job closer to home. Our childhoods were packed full of activities and hobbies with her.

In 2010 our mum began a relationship with a man called Robert Trigg. At the time we just thought he was a bit of an idiot but we had no idea what was really going on.

We found out after she died that he had been violent towards mum – and that the police knew it. They had been called to mum’s flat repeatedly by concerned neighbours. Three weeks before her death he was given a police caution because he admitted punching her in the face.

Mum was killed on 17 April 2011. Robert Trigg said that he must have smothered her accidentally by rolling onto her as they slept on the sofa together. The police began investigating her death, but they quickly decided it was not suspicious. An inquest was held at which it was decided mum’s death was an accident.

We couldn’t believe it. To us, his story about accidentally smothering her in his sleep just did not add up.

This was in addition to the way he behaved after she died. First he went to a shop and bought a packet of cigarettes. Then he called his brother. Then he called a neighbour, who finally called 999.

We now know he had killed another woman in 2006 - Caroline Devlin – and that the police knew about her death.

Caroline died in in the bed she shared with Robert Trigg. In the morning he went downstairs to make a cup of coffee and he told her young children to check on her. It was her children who raised the alarm after finding her dead in the bed. They alerted a neighbour, who called 999.

We could not believe what was happening when the police said they were closing the case – it was just surreal.

Our grandparents Peter and Elizabeth took up the fight. They spent years writing to the police, and anyone they thought would listen and could help. They got nowhere. It was in 2015 when they had exhausted every possible avenue of complaint they got their own pathologist report. The report concluded it was “very unlikely” mum could have died in the way that Robert Trigg described.

Eventually, Sussex Police decided to re-investigate the matter. Robert Trigg was finally charged and convicted for the murder of our mum and the manslaughter of Caroline.

We know in the six years between mum’s death and Robert Trigg’s arrest, he had been abusive and violent to other women.

He is now, finally in prison. However we want to know if the police could have done more. We need a full inquest to find out, and to ensure measures are put in place to protect people at risk from domestic violence.

Our Legal Case

The first inquest into mum’s death concluded that mum’s death was accidental. This was quashed after Robert Trigg’s conviction. This means that a new inquest needs to be held. We want there to be a full inquest, to look at these issues.

Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights gives every person the right to life. The police have a duty under Article 2 to protect people’s lives in certain circumstances.

We believe the police may have breached mum’s right to life, so we should have a full inquest to look properly at what happened, and whether her death could have been prevented.

The Coroner has decided to hold a short inquest, where there would be only one witness, a police officer. There would be no other witnesses, no ability for us to ask any questions and find out whether the police could have done more to protect mum.

We say that is just not enough.

We want to challenge this decision by a process called judicial review. This means we make arguments to a court that it is the wrong decision and the court has the power to change the decision or ask the Coroner to take the decision again.

How much are we raising and why? 

We are asking for your support. We want to bring a judicial review to challenge the coroner’s decision that our mum’s death does not qualify for a full “Article 2” inquest.

However, bringing a judicial review carries risk – if we don’t win we may have to pay the coroner’s legal fees. There is no way we could afford this. But we also cannot afford to not keep on fighting for mum. It is too important for her, for us and for all vulnerable women.

We are asking for your help to reach an initial target of £5,000. This will mean – if we have to – we will be able to pay the legal fees of the other party. If we are successful this money will be used to go towards our lawyers’ fees.

Thank you for your support. 

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Update 3

Joseph Nicholson

Sept. 24, 2020

Hearing

In our last update we let you know that the court had granted permission for our grandparents to continue with their challenge and that a full hearing was due to take place in March 2020.

Unfortunately that hearing had to be postponed. The case is now listed for a three day hearing on Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 October 2020. Because of the pandemic the hearing will be happening remotely, which means it will be like a video-conference call and everyone attending the hearing will ‘dial in’ as opposed to going in person to the Royal Courts of Justice.

While this is a big change it should mean the hearing can go ahead without further delay and everyone attending the hearing will be as safe as possible.

At this hearing our grandparents’ barrister will explain why we should have a full inquest into our mother’s death, to look at whether Sussex Police did enough to protect her. Representatives for the coroner, the police and for Robert Trigg (the man convicted for mum’s murder) will attend and explain to the court why they think we should not have a full inquest.

Sussex Police and Robert Trigg both filed written arguments with the court. The police say that they did enough to protect our mum.

Upsettingly, Robert Trigg is trying to use our challenge as a way to overturn his conviction. He is arguing that the coroner should look again at whether he did in fact murder our mother, even though he has already been convicted. If he argues this at the hearing it will be incredibly distressing for our family.

Robert Trigg has also asked the court to order that Sussex Police give him information that they hold about the mental health and physical health of all the “female complainants”. We assume he means that he wants sensitive personal information on all the women who gave evidence that he had abused and assaulted them at his trial. This information is completely irrelevant to our case, but the fact that he has asked for it shows what he is trying to do, and how outrageous his behaviour is.

Risk to our grandparents

Sussex Police have also said that if our grandparents are not successful, they will claim their costs from our grandparents. If they don’t win they may also have to pay the legal fees of the coroner, and even Robert Trigg. The police costs alone are over £6,000, which is already significantly higher than the money raised so far.

The money you donate helps to protect them from this risk.

Please will you share the link to the page with your friends, family and on social media. Will you take 3 minutes to:

  • Email or WhatsApp your friends and family about the case
  • Share the link on social media such as Twitter - https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-susan/
  • Raise the case in conversation and make sure people know about how the police are pursuing these kinds of cases

Thank you again for all of your support.

Update 2

Joseph Nicholson

March 12, 2020

Hearing Listed

Hi everyone,

In our last update we let you know that the court had granted permission for our grandparents to continue with their challenge. This meant they could continue to the next stage of this legal fight which is a full hearing. 

The hearing is taking place on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 March 2020 at the Royal Courts of Justice. At this hearing our grandparents’ barrister will explain why we should have a full inquest into our mother’s death, to look at whether Sussex Police did enough to protect her. Representatives for the coroner, the police and for Robert Trigg (the man convicted for mum’s murder) will attend and explain to the court why they think we should not have a full inquest.

Sussex Police and Robert Trigg have both filed written arguments with the court. The police say that they did enough to protect our mum. Robert Trigg is trying to use our challenge as a way to overturn his conviction. He is arguing that the coroner should look again at whether he did in fact murder our mother, even though he has already been convicted. If he argues this in court it will be incredibly upsetting for our family.

Robert Trigg has also asked the court to order that Sussex Police give him information that they hold about the mental health and physical health of all the “female complainants”. We assume he means that he wants sensitive personal information on all the women who gave evidence that he had abused and assaulted them at his trial. This information is completely irrelevant to our challenge, but the fact that he has asked for it shows what he is trying to do, and how outrageous his behaviour is.

Sussex Police have also said that if our grandparents are not successful, they will claim their costs from our grandparents. If they don’t win they may also have to pay the legal fees of the coroner, and even Robert Trigg. The police costs alone are over £6,000, which is already significantly higher than the money raised so far.

The money you donate will help to protect them from this risk.

Please will you share the link to the page with your friends, family and on social media. Will you take 3 minutes to:

  • Email or WhatsApp your friends and family the link to the case
  • Share the link on social media - Twitter or Facebook
  • Raise the case in conversation and make sure people know about how the police are pursuing these kinds of cases

Thank you again for all of your support. We are making real progress in our case and we couldn't have done this without you. This case has the potential to change the police's approach to protecting women from men with a history of domestic violence.

Update 1

Joseph Nicholson

Dec. 17, 2019

Real progress thanks to you

First of all thank you again for all of your support. We are making real progress in our case and we couldn't have done this without you. This case has the potential to change the police's approach to protecting women from men with a history of domestic violence.

In our last update we let you know that our legal team had issued judicial review proceedings at court.

Sussex Police and Robert Trigg (the man convicted for mum’s murder) both filed submissions with the court trying to stop our legal action.

Sussex Police objected to our grandparent’s challenge and said that they will claim their costs against our grandparents if they are unsuccessful. Robert Trigg has asked the court to order that the Coroner is not bound by his criminal conviction when it comes to the inquest. This appears to be an effort to undo his criminal conviction.

However, the court have now granted permission for our grandparents to continue with their challenge. This is great news and means they can continue to the next stage of this legal fight. 

However the threat of having to pay the costs of the police in particular is now a real riskIf they don’t win they may have to pay the legal fees of the coroner and interested parties. This would include the police costs, which are already significantly higher than the money raised so far. 

The money you donate will help to protect them from this risk, but without more it won’t be enough.

Please take five minutes to share the link to the page with your friends, family and on social media. Will you take three minutes to: 

  • Email or WhatsApp your friends and family the link to the case
  • Share the link on social media - Twitter or Facebook
  • Raise the case in conversation and make sure people know about how the police are pursuing these kinds of cases

Your support means so much thank you again. 

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