Horse trainer accused of raping and murdering showjumper Katie Simpson to face trial

Three women suspected of assisting in cover-up also to stand trial

Jonathan Cresswell

Katie Simpson

Jonathan Creswell

Tanya Fowles

A horse trainer accused of the rape and murder of Armagh showjumper Katie Simpson has been returned for trial along with three women suspected of assisting in covering up in the aftermath.

Jonathan Cresswell (35) and the women appeared at Derry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday for a committal hearing.

He is accused of murdering Ms Simpson (21), who was his partner’s sister, on August 3, 2020, having allegedly become enraged with jealousy on discovering she had spent the night with a male.

Katie Simpson

Cresswell, previously of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel, but now with an address which cannot be published, is also charged with raping Ms Simpson in the run-up to the alleged attack which left her fighting for her life.

Three female associates of Cresswell – all connected to the equestrian industry – were later joined to the case.

Last month one of them, Hayley Robb (29) from Weavers Meadow, Banbridge, was granted interim anonymity on the basis she would self-harm if identified. However, this was found to be unsubstantiated and the ban on reporting her name was dropped.

Press also successfully challenged a separate reporting restriction imposed during a High Court bail application for Cresswell in 2021, by which numerous people relevant to the case were banned from being named, despite their identities having already been widely published from previous hearings.

Robb faces four counts of withholding information between August 2, 2020 and June 26, 2021.

She and Jill Robinson (41) from Blackfort Road, Omagh are jointly accused of perverting the course of justice by washing Cresswell’s clothes in a launderette on August 3, 2020.

Rose de Montmorency-Wright (22) of Craigantlet Road, Newtownards, is accused of withholding information between October 9, 2020 and October 13. 2021.

Rose de Montmorency-Wright and Jill Robinson (Photo by Sunday World)

Montmorency-Wright lived with Cresswell, his partner Christina Simpson (Katie's eldest sister) and their children at the time of Katie’s death, later moving to England where she would be arrested and brought back to Northern Ireland for questioning.

In court today, the four accused did not object to the proceedings and declined to call witnesses or give evidence on their own behalf at this stage.

A prosecuting lawyer said there is a case to answer, which was agreed by District Judge Barney McElhom.

All were remanded on bail to appear at Laganside Crown Court for arraignment on a date to be fixed.

It was previously disclosed Cresswell, also a show jumper, claimed to have discovered Katie hanging and 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.

Medical 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.

Cresswell was “vague in detail”, claiming she fell from a horse the previous day, before being trampled.

After just under a week in intensive care, Katie passed away having never regained consciousness.

A post-mortem examination found injuries on her arms and legs, “consistent to being struck with a rod-type implement”.

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