robert trigg
Robert Trigg, 52, will serve a minimum of 25 years for the two killings Sussex Police

A chef has been sentenced to life with a minimum of 25 years in prison for killing two of his girlfriends.

Robert Trigg was convicted of murdering Susan Nicholson, 52, in 2011 and of the manslaughter of mother-of-four Caroline Devlin, 35, who died in 2006.

He was said by a judge to have caused the "senseless deaths" and then lied about the circumstances.

As he was led into Lewes Crown Court in handcuffs to be sentenced on Thursday (6 July), Trigg said cryptically: "Isaiah 50, verse 11. They should be in here, not me."

The Bible verse referred to includes the eerie warning "walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled".

The 52-year-old, who has a history of domestic abuse against women, almost got away with the two killings after foul play was ruled out in both deaths, which occurred in Worthing, West Sussex.

Devlin's body was found by one of her children on Mother's Day 2006, after she was heard having "rough and loud" sexual intercourse in her bedroom the night before.

Her death was originally recorded as being due to natural causes – an aneurysm – following a post-mortem examination.

Five years later came the death of Nicholson, a former Coutts bank worker and mother-of-two.

An inquest later ruled she was killed accidentally after Trigg claimed he inadvertently rolled on to her in his sleep while on a sofa, causing her to suffocate.

Nicholson's parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, both in their 80s, refused to accept the verdict and campaigned to challenge the inquest's conclusion.

They hired their own pathologist and barrister to prove she was murdered after being rebuffed by police.

Their pathologist, Dr Nathaniel Cary, concluded Nicholson suffocated after having her head deliberately pushed down into the bed, while Devlin was killed with a blow to the back of the head.

Jurors were told that Trigg had subjected both women to violence during their relationships.

After five years of escaping justice, Trigg, of Park Crescent, Worthing, was convicted on Wednesday following a 10-day trial.

During sentencing on Thursday, Mrs Justice Simler told him: "The grief and sadness of these two families will never leave them.

"These were senseless deaths and nothing can now restore their lives, nor can any part of this sentencing process restore them either.

"What you, the defendant, will do, I hope, is reflect on his role in causing these senseless deaths."

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Caroline Devlin (L) and Susan Nicholson (R) were killed by Robert Trigg. Family handouts

In a victim impact statement, Nicholson's mother, Elizabeth Skelton, said the family wanted answers over why it was left to her and her husband to take Trigg to court.

She said their campaign for the truth had incurred "mental torture", caused her to suffer a mild heart attack and led to depression in Nicholson's brother.

She added: "Our fight still goes on. We want answers to unexplained questions and why it was that the police weren't able to bring it to court when us, Sue's parents in their 80s, managed to."

In a separate victim impact statement, Devlin's son Brandyn McKenna said: "Our final message is that we don't want to think of our mother as dead and her memory will live on in our hearts forever."

Sussex Police apologised to both families for not presenting all the facts to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following the original investigation.

Detective Superintendent Tanya Jones, who led the new investigation, said: "This has been a distressing experience for both families, who have followed developments closely throughout, and who attended the trial. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with them.

"Both deaths were investigated by officers at the time, and post mortems were carried out. There was also a public inquest into the death of Susan Nicholson.

"The forensic information available in each case at the times of the deaths did not provide any avenues for further investigation. However, we were presented with new evidence by the parents of Susan Nicholson, after they commissioned the assessment of a third pathologist who in 2015 examined the findings in the case of Susan Nicholson. On this fresh information we carried out a new and thorough investigation, including both deaths. We then put the facts to the CPS who authorised prosecution."