Derry man charged with murder of woman (21)

Horse trainer Jonathan James Cresswell ‘coercive relationship’ with Katie Simpson court hears

Jonathan James Cresswell (33) will face Derry Magistrates’ Court by videolink on April 1st. File photograph: Street View

Jonathan James Cresswell (33) will face Derry Magistrates’ Court by videolink on April 1st. File photograph: Street View

 

A Co Derry man has been remanded in custody accused of murdering a 21 year old woman.

Jonathan James Cresswell (33) of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel, has been charged with the murder of Katie Simpson on August 3rd, 2020.

Appearing by videolink at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning, Mr Cresswell confirmed he understood the charge against him.

He was described in court as a horse trainer.

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

Ms Simpson was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital and transferred to intensive care.

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.

“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,” the officer told the court.

“A police investigation was subsequently launched.”

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

Bail

The detective said witnesses described Ms Simpson as “being in great form” during a night out on August 1st, 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 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 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 3rd, 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 Derry Magistrates’ Court by videolink on April 1st. – PA