world : Three avoid jail over Katie Simpson death cover-up

world : Three avoid jail over Katie Simpson death cover-up
world : Three avoid jail over Katie Simpson death cover-up

Friday 14 June 2024 10:30 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Three women who admitted offences connected to covering-up the death of showjumper Katie Simpson have avoided prison.

Ms Simpson died following an incident in Gortnessy Meadows, Lettershandoney, on 3 August 2020.

Hayley Robb, Jill Robinson and Rose De Montmorency-Wright received suspended sentences after pleading guilty to a range of offences connected to her death.

The man on trial for Katie Simpson's rape and murder - Jonathan Creswell - was found dead at his home in April.

Speaking outside the court, Ms Simpson's mother Noleen Simpson said "it's heartbreaking to know we'll never see Katie's smile again".

"Her laugh will be the memories that we will keep."

Robb, 30, of Weavers Meadow in Banbridge, County Down, admitted withholding information and a further two charges of perverting the course of justice.

She washed clothes belonging to Mr Creswell and cleaned blood at his home.

Her two-year prison sentence was suspended for two years.

Robinson, 42, from Blackfort Road in Omagh, County Tyrone also admitted perverting the course of justice by washing clothes belonging to Mr Creswell.

She was sentenced to 16 months suspended for two years.

De Montmorency-Wright, 22, from Craigantlet Road in Newtownards, County Down, admitted withholding information between October 2020 and October 2021.

She was living with Mr Creswell and his then partner Christina Simpson - Katie Simpson's sister.

She has been sentenced to eight months suspended for two years.

Mr Creswell, who denied Ms Simpson's rape and murder, was found dead shortly after the trial began.

He was not in custody as he had been granted bail at the High Court in Belfast in April 2021.

Ms Simpson's death was originally thought by police to have been a suicide but was later treated as murder.

After sentencing the three women, the judge said Mr Creswell was "a skilled and predatory abuser" who regarded women under his influence as "simply there to be used for his own ends including his sexual gratification".

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said it was their case that Mr Creswell was responsible for Ms Simpson's death.

"It was also central to the prosecution's case that he had covered up and lied about the circumstances of her death, to exculpate himself from blame," said senior public prosecutor Bronach McAuley.

"While the prosecution accepted the defendants' accounts that they believed that they were protecting Creswell from blame for an earlier assault by him upon Ms Simpson rather than her murder, they have nonetheless been convicted of serious criminality."

Speaking about the end of the trial due to the death of Jonathan Creswell, Noleen Simpson said the family will never find justice.

"Not having a trial has left an overwhelming sense of injustice. What kept us going was thinking he’ll be in prison any time soon.

"When you look back from the start, that was never going to happen."

She thanked all those involved in bringing Katie's murder to trial and believing it was not a suicide, as originally believed.

The Simpson family has previously called for an investigation into why the police did not respond urgently to suspicions that Ms Simpson may have been murdered.

The showjumper's aunt told BBC News NI that she believed Jonathan Creswell may have been sexually abusing Katie Simpson for years.

Paula Mullan said while some people speculated the two were in a relationship, that was not her understanding of the situation.

“To me, raping somebody and abusing them for so many years is not a relationship.

“He may have called it a relationship, but it was not.

“So that’s hard to imagine, that she had all that suffering in her life.

“I think she was going to tell everything and that’s why she was murdered."

She urged anyone in an abusive relationship to seek help, adding there were agencies like Women's Aid doing fine work.

Meanwhile, Marie Brown, chief executive of Foyle Women's Aid, called for a review of the case.

“I want a full review of this case because I think the PSNI performance was abysmal,” she said.

“I know that the case of Katie came in too late to fall into legislation for a homicide review.

“But I am urging that there should be an inquiry into the death of Katie Simpson, so that we can learn from this case.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “We have received an investigation file from the Office of the Police Ombudsman, which is currently being considered.

“It would, therefore, be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time.”

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