Northern Ireland horse trainer remanded in custody charged with murder of 21-year-old woman

April RoachSat, 6 March 2021, 3:43 pm

<p>Dungannon Magistrates' Court</p> (Google Maps)
Dungannon Magistrates’ Court(Google Maps)

A man from Northern Ireland has been remanded in custody accused of murdering a 21-year-old woman.

Jonathan James Cresswell, 22, of Greysteel, Co Londonderry, has been charged with the murder of Katie Simpson.

Mr Cresswell, who has been described in court as a horse trainer, appeared by videolink at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning to confirm that he understood the charge against him.

A detective sergeant told the court that on August 3 last year, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service had been called to a suspected hanging.

Ms Simpson was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital and transferred to intensive care. She died six days later.

The officer said bruising to one of her legs, both hands and one of her arms were noted. He added that doctors were concerned about her injuries and wanted further information.

He said Mr Cresswell claimed Ms Simpson had fallen from a horse at a show and been trampled.

The officer told the court: “Doctors found him vague in detail. 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 from a hanging victim weren’t present.

“A police investigation was subsequently launched.”

Evidence includes details from medics, mobile phones and witness statements.

The detective said witnesses described Ms Simpson as “being in great form” during a night out on August 1, and had been looking forward to the horse riding season ahead and seeing her new boyfriend.

He described Ms Simpson as being in fear of Mr Cresswell, and said he believes the accused was in control of her phone for a period before she died.

“He (Cresswell) has been in a controlling, coercive relationship with Katie since she was a young girl,” he told the court.

He said Mr Cresswell described finding Ms Simpson hanging from a strap attached to a bannister, but police did not find markings on the bannister and “negligible ligature marks on Katie’s neck”.

The officer objected to bail on the grounds of risk of reoffending, risk of flight and risk of interference with witnesses and the police investigation.

A defence lawyer for Mr Cresswell questioned the detective over the evidence, describing it as “essentially a circumstantial case”.

On the police objections to bail, the lawyer told the court his client has two children and “numerous ties to this jurisdiction”, adding: “He has every reason to remain in this jurisdiction.

“In addition to that, his family members are in a position to lodge a substantial cash surety. The defendant’s partner would also be in a position to surrender his passport to the authorities.”

He said the case would not be likely to be heard this year.

However Mr Cresswell was refused bail, with a district judge saying: “I am satisfied that the defendant’s previous conviction regarding a serious domestic assault does give rise to a risk of reoffending when one compares it to the facts of this case, and his previous actions in terms of leaving the jurisdiction when being sought by police also gives rise to a risk of flight.

“His actions since August 3 2020 also gives rise to a concern regarding risk of interference with witnesses and the police investigation.

“I find that they cannot be managed by bail conditions and as a result bail is refused due to risk of reoffending, risk of flight and risk of interference with witnesses and/or police investigation.”

Mr Cresswell will face Londonderry Magistrates’ Court by videolink on April 1.

Reporting by PA Media.