NewsCrime World

Man found guilty of killing two of his girlfriends five years apart

Robert Trigg
Robert Trigg

An unemployed man has been found guilty of killing two of his former girlfriends five years apart following a long-running campaign by one of their families to get justice.

Robert Trigg, 52, murdered Susan Nicholson in 2011 as they slept on a sofa together, five years after he killed another partner, Caroline Devlin, 35, in her bed.

Both deaths in Worthing, West Sussex, were not thought to be suspicious at the time.

But the family of Ms Nicholson refused to accept the finding and launched a five-year campaign to get to the truth.

The death of Ms Devlin, whose body was found by one of her four children on Mother's Day 2006, was originally recorded as being due to natural causes, an aneurysm.

And an inquest into Ms Nicholson's death ruled she died accidentally after Trigg claimed he inadvertently rolled onto her in his sleep while they were on a sofa.

But, following a 10-day trial at Lewes Crown Court, Trigg was convicted of Ms Nicholson's murder and Ms Devlin's manslaughter after six and a half hours of deliberation by jurors.

Judge Mrs Justice Simler adjourned sentencing until 11am on Thursday.

Trigg blew out his cheeks as the verdicts were announced.

Jurors were told both causes of death were re-examined years later by pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary who concluded Ms Nicholson was suffocated by having her head forced into the bed.

Dr Cary found Ms Devlin's death was caused by a blow to the back of her head.

Trigg, who declined to give evidence in his defence, denied both charges.

The trial heard both women suffered violence at the hands of Trigg during their relationships with him.

After one outburst, Ms Devlin said: "I won't be here for my 40th."

Trigg was described as a "possessive, controlling and jealous" man and by one former girlfriend as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character who drank heavily.

Ms Devlin's friend Bridget Benger told how her personality changed after she started a relationship with Trigg, describing her becoming "withdrawn" and having "lost her spark".

Three weeks before Ms Devlin's death, Ms Benger made a pact with her promising that if anything happened to them, they would support each other's children.

Ms Benger told how she found out about the discovery of her friend's body from Ms Devlin's eldest son who knocked on her door, telling her: "We can't wake mummy."

Similarities were highlighted about the two cases during the trial, including the revelation Trigg failed to dial 999 in either case after the women's bodies were found.

After Ms Nicholson died, Trigg instead went out to buy cigarettes, then called his brother Michael before phoning neighbour Hannah Cooper, telling her: "It's Sue, I think she's dead."

Ms Cooper said Ms Nicholson and Trigg had a "volatile and violent" relationship, with rows fuelled by alcohol, and police had been called at least six times following bust-ups between them.

The trial heard Trigg was treated at the time of Ms Nicholson's death as a bereaved partner rather than a suspect.

It was not until November last year that he was interviewed as a suspect.

On the night Ms Devlin died, one of her children heard the sounds of "rough and loud" sexual intercourse coming from their mother's loft bedroom, jurors were told.

The following morning, one of her other children went to ask Ms Devlin what she would like for her Mothering Sunday breakfast and saw her naked body on the bed, but thought she was asleep.

Trigg had left the house, but later returned and asked one of Ms Devlin's children to look at their mother as she laid upside down in the bed with her head deep into the duvet.

The alarm was then raised.

No CPR was attempted as Ms Devlin was already dead when medics arrived.

The trial heard a number of police officers who attended believed her death was not suspicious.

Ms Benger fought back tears as she recalled making a pact with Ms Devlin.

Ms Benger told jurors: "We made a pact that, because we were single parents, that if anything happened we would be there for each other's kids."