POLICE have been blamed for not running enough background checks that could have prevented a woman’s murder.

Robert Trigg had a history of domestic violence, known to the police, but was still able to kill Susan Nicholson in her Worthing home in 2011.

The 51-year-old chef told police he had fallen asleep on the sofa in Rowlands Road and woke to find he had “rolled” on top of his girlfriend and suffocated her.

When Miss Nicholson’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth Skelton, launched an investigation into their daughter’s “accidental” death, they found another of Trigg’s girlfriend’s, Caroline Devlin, 35, had died of “natural causes” five years before.

In 2017, Trigg was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years for the murder of Miss Nicholson and the manslaughter of Miss Devlin.

The High Court overturned the verdict of Miss Nicholson’s original inquest and ordered a fresh enquiry. A pre-inquest review was launched this week.

Heather Williams, representing the family, told the court the police had missed “many opportunities” to investigate Trigg, which could have prevented the murder.

She told the court: “If the police had checked Trigg on their databases then bells should have been ringing. Susan wasn’t killed out of the blue.”

Ms Williams said Sussex Police knew Trigg had been cautioned for beating another former girlfriend “to a pulp” in 2003.

She said: “Police knew about the battery. There was a pattern emerging and it seemed that no one joined the dots.” The inquest heard a previous lover had described Trigg as “violent and delusional” while another said he had threatened to kill her.

A neighbour also said she saw physical evidence of the beating due to the wounds on Miss Nicholson’s body and police had been called round to her home on six occasions.

Only a couple of days before she was killed, the police cautioned Trigg for punching his girlfriend in the face.

Ms Williams said the post-mortem carried out was a “significant failure worthy of explanation”.

She said all the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death – including Miss Nicholson’s position when she was found, Trigg’s failure to call an ambulance, and his inability to account for the night before – should have triggered “major concern” and a Home Office forensic post-mortem.

She told the court that a more thorough pathologist account would have shown up the damage to the bottom of the skull and ruled out “accidental” death straight away.

The case is being independently reviewed by Thames Valley Police.

Gilly Jones, lawyer for Sussex Police, said: “The police had a body that had been examined and we were told there were no suspicious circumstances nor reports of assault at the time.

“There was no obvious cause of death.”

Despite Sussex Police releasing its officers from the investigation, Ms Jones told the court “missed opportunities” had been acknowledged and things could have been done better.

The inquest was adjourned until May 8.

Coroner Penelope Schofield and Mr and Mrs Skelton will be looking at a revised report from Thames Valley Police.