Northern Ireland

Former public appointments watchdog provides character reference for woman ahead of sentencing for role in Katie Simpson death cover-up

Character reference says of Ms Simpson’s ‘closest’ friend was involved in something ‘far beyond her understanding’

Katie Simpson (21)
Katie Simpson.

A woman who admitted withholding information in the Katie Simpson murder case has been given a character reference by the north’s former public appointments commissioner.

Rose De Montmorency-Wright pleaded guilty to withholding information while knowing that Jonathan Creswell had assaulted Katie Simpson and an investigation was underway into her death.

Ms Simpson, who was 21, died in August 2020, following an incident at Gortnessy Meadows in Lettershandoney.

Creswell (36), her sister’s partner, was charged with the rape and murder of the young showjumper, but was found dead at his home in April, the day after his trial began.

Katie Simpson murder-
Derry no5-2/5/2024- Trevor McBride picture©
Chief Constable has told Policing Board officers commited misconduct in case.
( pictured at court-22/4/2024 )
horse trainer Jonathan Cresswell(35)  
who was charged with the murder of show jumper Katie Simpson in 2020-pictured at court in Derry prior to proceedings in Coleraine.
he was found dead at his home after first day of court.
mandatory picture credit
Horse trainer Jonathan Creswell was found dead at his home the day after his trail began in April. (Trevor McBride)

It was alleged Creswell had attempted to cover up his crimes by claiming to have found Ms Simpson following a suicide attempt.

De Montmorency-Wright (23), of Craigantlet Road, Newtownards, is one of three women charged in connection with the alleged rape and murder of Ms Simpson, and who will be sentenced on Friday.

The others are Hayley Rob (30), from Weavers Row in Banbridge, who pleaded guilty to withholding information and two counts of perverting the course of justice, and Jill Robinson (42), from Blackfort Road in Omagh, who admitted one count of perverting the course of justice.

The trio have accepted their guilt on the basis they did not know or believe Creswell, of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel, had murdered Ms Simpson, but knew he had caused her actual bodily harm and failed to report this knowledge to police.

It emerged on Sunday that ahead of her sentencing on Friday, De Montmorency-Wright has received a character reference from former public appointments commissioner Judena Leslie, who described her as Ms Simpson’s “closest and beloved friend”.

Public appointments commissioner Judena Leslie stepped down in May2021
Former public appointments commissioner Judena Leslie stepped down in May 2021.

Ms Leslie, who was Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland from 2015 to 2021, wrote in the reference that De Montmorency-Wright was caught up in something “far beyond her understanding” when she assisted in covering up for Creswell.

The Sunday Life reported that the reference describes De Montmorency-Wright as someone Ms Leslie has known since she was an “enthusiastic and joyful child” who was “truthful and with no sense of malice”.

“Rose was unwittingly exposed on a daily basis to a person of deeply malign influence; a man with a violent criminal record, masquerading as an ordinary and charming fellow equestrian,” the reference states.

It refers to De Montmorency-Wright’s “nievety” and that she “could not truly appreciate the dangers and the nature of what she was involved in”.

Prosecutors say De Montmorency-Wright, who lived with Ms Simpson, her sister and Creswell, claimed to have witnessed Ms Simpson falling from her horse.

She also told police that Creswell had admitted to her that he had “hit Katie with the end of a stick around the ankles”.