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Women who admitted role in Katie Simpson murder cover-up on bail ahead of sentencing

Defence lawyers contend the women involved were controlled and in fear of Jonathan Creswell

Jonathan Creswell and Katie Simpson
Jonathan Creswell and Katie Simpson

Three women who admitted their roles in the Katie Simpson murder cover-up have been released on bail ahead of sentencing next month with a judge warning it, “should not in any way be taken as an indication of how I intend to sentence”.

Jonathan Creswell (36), previously of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel, was charged with murdering the talented showjumper on August 3, 2020, and raping her at some time beforehand.

It was contended he attacked Katie – the younger sister of his partner Nina – 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.

Today (Friday), a police officer told 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, but later changed their plea.

The first to switch position was Hayley Robb (30) from Weavers Meadow, Banbridge who admitted withholding information between August 2 2020 and June 26 2021, while knowing Katie had sustained injuries.

Robb further admitted perverting justice by cleaning blood in Creswell’s home on August 3 2020 as well as washing his clothes at a laundrette.

The other two women also changed their pleas shortly after with Jill Robinson (42) from Blackfort Road, Omagh, admitting to perverting justice by washing Creswell’s clothes along with Robb.

Rose de Montmorency-Wright (23) of Craigantlet Road, Newtownards admitted withholding 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 knew Creswell had badly assaulted Katie but did not know she was murdered, and their actions were to cover up the attack.

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 post mortem report held was “indicative” of violent sexual assault.

Later in the morning Katie was admitted to hospital, Creswell was sitting in a car with Hayley, Nina and Jill, when he broke down stating: “You ones think she did this because of me”.

The women moved to reassure him this wasn’t true because they believed, “he doted on Katie”.

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 said of her involvement, she “wanted to have his back”.

She also told police she spoke to Katie on her return with Creswell on the Sunday night (August 2 2020) who was laughing about being trampled by her horse.

Rose also said the following morning she spoke to Katie who told her she wasn’t going to work.

Thinking this unusual for Katie but not suspecting anything was wrong, Rose left for work in Creswell’s car.

He meanwhile took his children to his mother’s and on the return trip while talking on the phone to Hayley screamed that he’d found Katie hanging.

On arrival at the house Hayley cleaned blood off a banister but understood this to be from the assault.

She also took Creswell’s clothes on his request, meeting up with Jill, the same day, before they drove to an external launderette and washed them.

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

The court heard he had previous convictions for violence and as well known to be physically and emotionally abusive of women, with Katie often receiving the brunt of his bad temper.

Defence counsel for the women each contended they too were victims of Creswell’s abuse and acted out of fear and misguided loyalty.

Aware of his previous convictions they did not want him getting into trouble for assaulting Katie and he had also told them not to tell anyone what had occurred.

Judge Rafferty decided to adjourn sentencing adding his intention to include Victim Impact Statements because, “It’s important that those who suffered the greatest know their views will be taken into consideration.”

Addressing the women he said: “I am releasing you on continuing bail. That should not in any way be taken as an indication of how I intend to sentence.”

The matter will return to court on June 14.

Follow all the latest court news here.

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