Matthew Farmer’s advice in private prosecution leads to an arrest and conviction in high profile murder case

July 20, 2017

In early 2015 Matthew Farmer was instructed by Mr and Mrs Skelton to advise on whether it would be possible to take out a private prosecution against Robert Trigg for the murder of their daughter Susan Nicholson in 2011. Robert Trigg had reported finding her dead on the sofa early in the morning, and told the Police that he must have rolled on her in the night and accidentally asphyxiated her. The Police carried out little investigation, and accepted this account.

A pathologist’s report asserted that Mr Trigg’s account was possible. The Skeltons refused to accept this. They were aware that Robert Trigg had a history of violence against their daughter, and they believed his explanation as to how she died was incredible. A Coroner’s Court supported Robert Trigg’s version of events, and returned a verdict of accidental death. The Police closed the case with no action being taken against Mr Trigg.

For four years, the Skeltons fought in vain for justice for their daughter. Finally, in early 2015 they sought advice from Bennett Griffin solicitors who instructed Matthew Farmer to advise on the prospects of launching a private prosecution. Mr Farmer advised that Robert Trigg’s account was contradictory and incapable of belief. He advised that a further forensic report be obtained from the eminent home office pathologist Dr Nat Cary. Relying partly on this new forensic report, and Mr Farmer’s schedule and account of serious deficiencies within the Police investigation, the Sussex Police were persuaded to reopen the investigation.

Part of the advice to the Police included a request that they also investigate the circumstances of the death of Caroline Devlin, another former partner of Mr Trigg, who had died some years earlier in her sleep in circumstances that now appeared suspicious. With another forensic report from Dr Cary, Robert Trigg  was finally tried before a jury and found guilty on the 5th July 2017 at Lewes Crown Court of the murder of Susan Nicholson and the manslaughter of Caroline Devlin. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 25 years.

Further details of the case can be found at