AFTER repeated delays, a man accused of the rape and murder of his partner’s sister has been returned for trial along with three female associates alleged to have covered-up in the aftermath.

Previously of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel, but now with an address which cannot be published, Jonathan Creswell (35) is charged with murdering show jumping rider Katie Simpson on August 3rd 2020, having allegedly become enraged with jealousy on discovering she’d spent the night with a male.

He is also charged with allegedly raping Katie at some point in the run-up to the alleged incident which left her fighting for her life. Three female associates of Creswell – all connected to the equestrian industry – were later joined to the case for allegedly assisting in covering-up.

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 Creswell 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 2nd 2020 and June 26th 2021. She and another woman, Jill Robinson (41) from Blackfort Road, Omagh, who was the first to be arrested over the alleged cover-up, are jointly accused of perverting the course of justice by washing Creswell’s clothes in an external launderette on August 3rd 2020.

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

Committal hearing

Creswell and the women appeared at Derry/Londonderry Magistrates Court on Wednesday for a committal hearing. They 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 McElhome.

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

It was previously disclosed Creswell 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. Creswell was “vague in detail”, claiming Katie 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, aged 21. A post-mortem found injuries on her arms and legs, “consistent to being struck with a rod-type implement.”

Significant concerns brought to police attention while Katie fought for her life were dismissed, with the alleged suicide attempt apparently accepted. A small group refused to accept this and following sustained efforts, a new policing team took over in January 2021, arresting Creswell within weeks.

A Police Ombudsman investigation remains ongoing. Police believe Creswell “controlled and coerced Katie since she was 9 or 10”, first encountering her when he began a relationship with her sister.