One of the women accused in the Katie Simpson murder case has switched plea and admitted her role.
The move came during a review hearing of the case at Laganside Crown Court today (Friday).
Jonathan Creswell (35) previously of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel but now with an address which cannot be published, is charged with murdering the talented showjumper on August 3, 2020 and raping her at some time beforehand.
It is contended he attacked Katie, who was the younger sister of his partner, in an alleged jealous rage then staged a scene to make it appear she had attempted to take her own life.
Three women – all connected to Creswell through the equestrian industry – are charged with offences relating to the cover up of Katie’s murder in the aftermath.
While all accused initially denied their respective charges, one has now changed her plea.
Lawyers for Hayley Robb (30) from Weavers Meadow, Banbridge asked for the charges to be put to her again and breaking down in tears, admitted withholding information between August 2, 2020 and June 26, 2021, while knowing Katie had sustained injuries.
She further admitted perverting the course of justice by cleaning blood in Creswell’s home on August 3, 2020 as well as washing his clothes at a laundrette.
Robb remains on bail and will be sentenced at the conclusion of the overall trial.
Meanwhile, proceedings are continuing against Creswell and the two other women, one of whom, Jill Robinson (42) from Blackfort Road, Omagh is also accused of perverting the course of justice by washing his clothes.
The third woman, Rose de Montmorency-Wright (22) of Craigantlet Road, Newtownards is accused of withholding information between 9 October 2020 and 13 October 2021 knowing Creswell had allegedly assaulted Katie, and believing murder may have been committed.
She resided with Creswell, his partner Christina Simpson (Katie’s sister) and their two children, at the time of her death.
Both women made up two of the last group of four to carry Katie’s coffin to her grave.
The trial, which is scheduled for April 2024, will now take place without Robb in the dock.
It was previously disclosed after Creswell claimed to have discovered Katie hanging, he placed her – unresponsive and dressed only in a polo shirt and underwear – into her own car before driving to meet an ambulance, as opposed to waiting for it to arrive at the scene.
Altnagelvin Hospital staff were concerned by Katie’s presentation noting multiple injuries including intimate bleeding and extensive bruising to her lower right leg, inner thigh and both hands.
Creswell was “vague in detail”, claiming Katie fell from a horse the previous day, before being trampled.
She passed away just under a week later aged 21, having never regained consciousness.
A post-mortem found tramline injuries on her limbs, “consistent to being struck with a rod-type implement.”
An initial police investigation declined to pursue any criminal enquiries, repeatedly dismissing concerns brought directly to them over Katie’s death.
It would be seven months before Creswell was finally arrested after sustained efforts by Katie’s friends prompted a high-level review into the original PSNI decision.
A new team took over in January 2021 and a murder inquiry was launched.
Another struggle eventually resulted in a Police Ombudsman investigation, with six officers reported to PSNI Professional Standards, under what became Operation Gambart.
When asked about the status of this a PSNI spokesperson said, “An investigation file has been received from the Police Ombudsman. This file is extensive. It will take some time to fully and properly consider its content. As the misconduct process remains ongoing, no further information can be provided at this time.
Police believe Creswell “controlled and coerced Katie since she was a child of 9 or 10”, first encountering her through his long-term relationship with her eldest sister, Christina Simpson.