Horse trainer appears in court accused of murdering woman in Derry

A horse trainer has appeared in court accused of murdering his partner’s sister.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 8:18 am
Court hammer

Jonathan James Cresswell, of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel, is charged with murdering 21-year-old Katie Simpson on August 3, last year.

An investigating officer told Derry Magistrate’s Court sitting in Dungannon that police believe the 33-year-old defendant had been in a ‘controlling, coercive relationship’ with Katie Simpson since she was a young girl and had been in a sexual relationship with her for a number of years.

The court was told the NI Ambulance Service were called to a suspected case of attempted suicide. Miss Simpson was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital and transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.

Cresswell, the court was told, claimed he had found Miss Simpson hanging at a house in Gortnessy Meadows. However, the court was told medics at the hospital allegedly found the defendant ‘vague’ about the details. They also allegedly noted a number of injuries to Miss Simpson’s body, including bruising to her legs and hands and a cut lip.

The defendant allegedly claimed she had fallen from a horse the previous day.

The officer told the court a police investigation was launched after concerns were raised. He told the court: “Doctors and nurses found that she did not present as a hanging victim, the lack of ligature mark and other features that they would expect... weren’t present.”

The officer added that ‘life was looking good for Katie’ and she had a lot to look forward to including the start of the horse riding season, a new boyfriend and her sister was due to give birth.

He said that police believe the deceased was in fear of Cresswell and that he was in control of her mobile phone before her death.

The court heard allegations that during police interview, the 33-year-old admitted throwing Miss Simpson’s phone into a field after her death, something which he allegedly described as a ‘silly mistake’.

Opposing bail, the investigating officer said police had concerns Cresswell may flea the jurisdiction or interfere with the police investigation.

Defence counsel Eoghan Devlin said the case against his client is ‘circumstantial’.

He added that the defendant’s family could lodge a ‘substantial cash surety’ with the court and his partner could surrender his passport if he was granted bail.

Mr Devlin said the case was likely to be subject to some delay due to the nature of the evidence.

District Judge Stephen Keown refused bail, stating he was not satisfied the risks of flight or interference with the investigating could be managed by conditions.

Cresswell was remanded in custody to appear in court again via videolink on April 1.