Keep up with Armagh i

Woman who covered for murderer was subjected to his violence at Tynan Stables, court told

Jonathan Creswell

Lawyers for a woman who admitted her role in covering-up a murder have claimed she was “subjected to violence” by the killer while they worked at the same stables in Tynan where the victim Katie Simpson first encountered them both when she was just a child.

Jonathon Creswell (36), originally from Greysteel but latterly residing on bail at Brunswick Road in Derry/Londonderry was charged with murdering Katie on August 3, 2020 and raping her at some time beforehand.

It was contended he attacked Katie – the younger sister of his partner, Christina – in a jealous rage then staged a scene to make it appear she had attempted to take her own life.

He denied all charges against him from the outset and the trial got underway on April 23, but ended 24 hours later when the court was informed he had been found dead.

Last week, a police officer told Derry/Londonderry Crown Court she attended Creswell’s bail address to a report of a “hysterical” female.

On arrival she observed Creswell to be deceased and his identity was confirmed by a family member.

Having heard this evidence Judge Neil Rafferty ordered the prosecution against Creswell, “discontinued, by reason of his death”.

While four women, all associated to Creswell through the equestrian industry, were reported by PSNI for prosecution, a decision was taken to proceed against three.

They initially denied charges relating to various actions following Katie’s death amounting to a “conspiracy of silence”, but later changed their plea.

Jill Robinson (42), from Blackfort Road, Omagh, perverted justice by washing Creswell’s along with co-defendant Hayley Robb (30) from Weavers Meadow, Banbridge who also withheld information between August 2, 2020 and June 26, 2021, while knowing Katie had sustained injuries from a serious assault.

Robb also perverted justice by cleaning blood in Creswell’s home on August 3, 2020.

Rose de Montmorency-Wright (23) of Craigantlet Road, Newtownards withheld information between October 9, 2020 and  October 13, 2021 knowing Creswell had assaulted Katie and an investigation was underway into her death.

Prosecution counsel, Sam Magee KC, accepted the women did not knew Creswell had murdered Katie, and their actions were to cover up the assault

He also set out the distressing injuries Katie sustained all over her body which included defensive wounds on her arms and hands, as well as what appeared to be “grip marks” on her thigh, which the second pathologist to review the postmortem report, held was “indicative” of violent sexual assault.

On the morning Katie was admitted to hospital, Creswell was sitting in a car with Hayley, Christina and Jill, when he broke down stating: “You ones think I did this”.

Jill claimed all three women moved to reassure him this wasn’t true because they believed “he doted on Katie”.

Throughout all interactions Jill was of the view Christina said “nothing of significance.”

Creswell divulged to them that he’d beaten Katie and knowing she had sustained significant injuries intended to explain these to medical staff as caused by her being trampled.

None reported this to police or medical staff, and while Rose was not present for this conversation, she would later say of her involvement, she “wanted to have his back”.

Hayley took Creswell’s clothes on his request and later met up with Jill, before they drove to an external launderette in Fintona and washed them.

Hayley remained in the car throughout and Jill later returned the washed clothing to Creswell’s mother’s house.

During police interview Hayley claimed Jill instructed her not to tell anyone they had washed the clothes and informed her that Katie had been trampled by a horse prior to her death.

Meanwhile, Jill told police she and Creswell were in a relationship years ago and had remained friends ever since.

She denied being controlled by, or afraid of him, nor did he ever assault her, although her defence set this out differently.

On the morning of the incident Christina called her to say Katie had hanged herself and she made her way to the hospital.

She confirmed washing the clothes but saw nothing unusual about this and recalled informing Christina she had done this.

In hindsight she accepted her behaviour was “strange and suspicious”.

She denied Christina’s claim of telling her Creswell assaulted Katie the night before.

Jill could not recall any discussions of this nature including at the funeral and further denied any knowledge that Creswell had Katie’s phone.

However, she admitted deleting messages from her phone including some sent to Rose but insisted there was nothing sinister in this.

She admitted knowing Hayley had cleaned blood and being aware of the “whole thing with Abi Lyle” who was a previous victim of Creswell.

Her defence barrister said she expressed remorse and gained nothing from her actions, rather she too was a victim of Creswell’s physical and emotional abuse, which it was conceded she denied to police.

The defence said Jill “was subjected to violence at the hands of Creswell. Police put it to her that there was evidence she was assaulted numerous times at Gillespie’s yard in Tynan. She denied this. That is indicative of abuse and control.”

Judge Rafferty decided to adjourn sentencing and told the women: “I am releasing you on continuing bail. That should not be taken as an indication of how I intend to sentence.”

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Armagh