After a lengthy legal battle, Susan’s parents hope that the results of the inquest will ensure that victims of domestic violence are better protected by the police
A fresh inquest into the death of Susan Nicholson will begin on Monday 21 June 2021, 10 years after her death and four years after her murderer was convicted.
In 2011, Susan was killed by her then-partner, Robert Trigg. Sussex Police initially considered her death non-suspicious, and the Coroner at her original inquest therefore found her death to be accidental. However, Susan’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, campaigned for years for Susan’s death to be adequately investigated.
Following Peter and Elizabeth’s efforts over six years, Sussex Police re-investigated Susan’s death and Trigg was eventually convicted of Susan’s murder in 2017, as well as for the manslaughter of a previous partner, Caroline Devlin. He is currently serving a 25-year sentence for their deaths.
After his conviction, the Senior Coroner for West Sussex intended to hold a short inquest, simply to amend the cause of death from “accidental” to “unlawful killing”. Susan’s parents argued that the inquest should also look at the wider circumstances of her death, and in particular, whether it could have been prevented.
The coroner refused and so Peter and Elizabeth applied for a judicial review. They were successful and the High Court ordered in October 2020 that a fuller inquest should be held, in order to comply with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to life.
The focus of this inquest will therefore be to examine whether police failings contributed to Susan’s murder.
Speaking ahead of the Inquest, Susan’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, said: “We have waited for over ten years for a full inquest surrounding the death of our daughter. Susan was cruelly taken away from us ten years ago, and yet it has taken this long for the authorities to be questioned about her death. We want answers and we want to do what we can so that this doesn’t happen again and other families don’t have to go through the pain and distress that we have suffered.”
Alice Hardy, Partner and Civil Liberties Solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen, representing Peter and Elizabeth said: “Thanks to Peter and Elizabeth Skelton’s dedicated efforts over the ten years since Susan’s death, there is now an opportunity to investigate whether her death could have been prevented. We all hope that this process will ensure that any lessons can be learnt, so as to better protect victims of domestic violence in future.”
The Inquest will run from 21 June to 7 July 2021 before the Senior Coroner for West Sussex, Penelope Schofield.
Susan Nicholson’s family are represented by Alice Hardy and Fiona Bowen of Hodge Jones and Allen, and Heather Williams QC of Doughty Street Chambers.
All media interested in attending the Inquest should contact the West Sussex Coroner’s Service directly. Further information and contact details can be found here.
Any media requests should come via Yellow Jersey PR (details below), which will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Media are asked in no circumstances to contact any member of the family directly.
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