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Katie Simpson, 21, died after an incident in Lettershandoney in August 2020. PSNI
jonathan creswell

Murder trial halted after man accused of killing showjumper Katie Simpson found dead at home

Jonathan Creswell had denied the rape and murder of the 21-year-old.

THE TRIAL INTO the rape and murder of Armagh showjumper Katie Simpson was dramatically halted this morning after the accused was found dead at his home.

The young woman died in hospital at the age of 21 after an incident in Gortnessy Meadows, Lettershandoney, on 3 August 2020.

Horse trainer Jonathan Creswell, 36, had denied her rape and murder.

The trial was due to continue today, but before the prosecution had concluded their opening statement, Prosecuting counsel Sam Magee KC told the court that Creswell “was found deceased at his home this morning”.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Gibson was called to the witness box and advised he had received information that “at 9am this morning police in Derry confirmed a male deceased”.

“Life was pronounced extinct 20 minutes later,” he said. “A family member confirmed it was Mr Jonathan Creswell.”

Cresswell had been released on bail. 

The death is being treated as non-suspicious. The coroner has been informed.

Judge Neil Rafferty KC addressed the jury stating under these circumstances, they are discharged as the trial process in terms of Creswell has concluded.

It was contended by the prosecution that Creswell had attacked Katie Simpson, who was the younger sister of his partner, in an act of “jealous rage” and then staged a scene to make it appear she had attempted to take her own life.

Sentencing against three co-accused women will now be brought forward.

The three women – all connected to Creswell through the equestrian industry – initially denied charges relating to various actions following Simpson’s death, but all later changed their plea.

The first to switch position was Hayley Robb (30) from Weavers Meadow, Banbridge who changed plea in December.

She admitted withholding information between 2 August 2020 and 26 June 2021, while knowing Katie had sustained injuries. Robb further admitted two counts of perverting the course of justice.

Then in January the other two women also changed their pleas to guilty. Jill Robinson (42) from Blackfort Road, Omagh admitted perverting the course of justice.

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

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