In March 2006, Robert Trigg claimed he found Caroline Devlin in bed at their home in Worthing, West Sussex, after they had sex and only realized she was dead when he tried to shake her awake.
Robert Trigg to be sentenced shortly for killings of two girlfriends, 5yrs apart. Only persistence of victim's elderly dad secured trial. pic.twitter.com/lJ2GZ5cbLX— Dominic Reynolds (@domreynolds) 6 July 2017
Detective Inspector Nigel Brown classified Caroline's death as "non-suspicious but unexplained," which meant she would only be given a routine post-mortem report.
But the coroner was more suspicious and wanted a more detailed report, but there was a row about the cost.
The court heard there was an "historic conflict" and a "lack of trust" between Sussex Police and the local pathologist.
"The coroner wanted Sussex Police to fund a Home Office forensic pathologist to carry out the post-mortem and this was refused (by the police)," Detective Inspector Brown told the court.
Eventually another pathologist, Dr. Barbara Borek, carried out a routine post-mortem and Ms. Devlin's death was put down as being a brain aneurysm.
Trigg was not charged in connection with the killing of Ms. Devlin and in 2011 Susan Nicholson, 52, was found dead on a sofa at his home.
When he eventually went on trial, the prosecution said Dr. Borek had not looked for evidence of injuries from a blow to Ms. Devlin's neck, which Home Office pathologist Dr. Nathaniel Cary said could have led to bleeding in her brain.
On Wednesday (July 5) Trigg was convicted of murdering Ms. Nicholson and the manslaughter of Ms. Devlin.
Sussex Police released a 999 call received after Ms. Nicholson's body was found.
Trigg was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 25 years on Thursday, June 6.
"I hope what you will do is reflect on your role… in causing these senseless deaths," said the judge, Justice Ingrid Simler.
An initial investigation went along with Trigg's claim that she had suffocated underneath him while they slept on the sofa.
But her parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, did not believe his story and campaigned for six years to obtain justice.
They claimed the process was "mental torture" and criticized the police.
"We knew right from the start there's no way two people could sleep on that sofa," Mrs. Skelton said.
"Their first investigation wasn't very good. That's why we had to get a barrister and a pathologist to back up our case because they wouldn't listen to us," said Mr. Skelton.
Mr. and Mrs. Skelton also complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), who has released a statement.
"The IPCC upheld two appeals into the way Sussex Police dealt with complaints about its investigation into the death of Susan Nicholson. On both occasions we asked the force to reinvestigate the complaint. A third appeal was not upheld," they said.
"Our role is to independently review the decisions and actions of the police when handling a complaint, not to reinvestigate that complaint. This involves looking at all the points a complainant has raised in relation to the investigation of the original complaint," said the IPCC.
"Robert Trigg killed Caroline Devlin in 2006 and he got away with it, at least for a time. Despite valid and voiced concerns of the coroner Trigg was allowed to evade justice and so continue his violence against women. He was convicted of harassing one woman and assaulting another before he killed Susan Nicholson in 2011," Karen Ingala Smith, CEO of NIA, a charity for women who have experienced men’s violence, told Sputnik.
"Caroline Devlin was failed by the police and the justice system – and so was every woman abused or attacked by Trigg after he had killed her," she said. "Like any violent man, Trigg is the one who bears responsibility for what he did, but the state has a responsibility to protect women’s right to life and freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment," she told Sputnik.
"I am glad that justice has finally caught up with Trigg. But when it comes to delivering justice to women, the criminal justice system, has potential to have a preventative as well as a reactive function. Susan Nicholson paid with her life and her death was entirely preventable had Trigg been held to account the first time he killed a woman," she told Sputnik.
The Home Office was unavailable for comment.