Northern Ireland

Horse rider who survived domestic violence at hands of accused killer Jonathan Creswell to compete in Paris Olympics

Abi Lyle from Bangor and her horse Giraldo will represent Ireland in Individual Dressage event in July

Abi Lyle
International dressage rider Abi Lyle who suffered domestic violence at the hands of the late Jonathan Creswell, will represent Ireland in this summer’s Olympic Games.

An international dressage rider who suffered domestic violence at the hands of Jonathan Creswell will represent Ireland in this summer’s Olympic Games.

Abi Lyle, originally from Bangor in Co Down, now based in Gloucestershire, and her horse Giraldo (Arty), will compete in the Individual Dressage event in Paris.

Ms Lyle said competing in the Olympics was beyond her wildest dreams.

“So many people have led me, propped me up, walked beside me and contributed in so many ways to get to this. There are so many to thank. But the first and most important to thank is Arty,” she added.

“I will spend the rest of our lives making sure you feel like the most-loved horse in the world and you never, ever want for anything.”

Jonathan Creswell (36) took his own life in April, one day into his trial for the 2020 rape and murder of showjumper Katie Simpson, from Tynan in Co Armagh,

Following his death, Ms Lyle spoke publicly about her relationship with Cresswell, who she described as “an incredibly violent and abusive individual”.

She and Creswell were together for nine months, 15 years ago and in a BBC interview she spoke about being regularly beaten at his hands, to such an extent she looked “like a Dalmatian” so bruised was her body.

Creswell served a six month jail sentence in 2010 having pleaded guilty to assaulting Ms Lyle.

Recalling one specific attack, in a wooded area close to Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan, Ms Lyle said she had feared for her life.

She said: “I never felt fear like that … To just be in a car with somebody and you don’t know where you are going …He took me into the woods and threatened to kill me. I thought he was going to do it this time. He didn’t obviously, but the attack lasted hours.

“He was just beating me, throwing me around, choking me, screaming at me.

“Then he would just say: ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. Don’t go’. And then the cycle would start over again.

“Every couple of weeks for those nine months, I did something that would be unacceptable to him,” said Ms Lyle.

On one occasion, Cresswell threatened to throw Ms Lyle into a bath of bleach.

She said: “One evening I came home, and I could smell it from downstairs. He had filled the bath with bleach.

“I started screaming and someone actually came to the door. I don’t know who that was but thank you.

“Someone came and banged on the door, and he said: ‘If you’re quiet I won’t put you on the bleach’. So, I was quiet. So, I just got a ‘normal’ beating instead.”