Northern Ireland

Leaking of court papers in Katie Simpson murder case ‘should be concern for court’

Des Fahy KC said he was ‘concerned’ about material finding its way into the media before it was aired in court

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 Trevor McBride
Jonathan Creswell and Katie Simpson (Trevor McBride)

THE appearance of legal papers in the press relating to the case of three women charged in connection with the investigation into the murder of Katie Simpson has caused “untold distress to the victim’s family”, Derry Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

The defendants are Rose De Montmorency-Wright, 23, from Craigantlet Road in Newtownards, Hayley Rob, 30, from Weavers Row in Banbridge and Jill Robinson, 42, from Blackfort Road in Omagh, who are due to be sentenced on Friday in relation to either perverting the course of justice or withholding information about the investigation.

The man charged with her murder, Jonathan Creswell, 36, was found dead on the morning of the second day of his trial.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Neil Rafferty KC had been asked to release character references to the media.

However, Des Fahy KC for Jill Robinson said that he was ‘concerned’ about material finding its way into the media before it was aired in court.

Jill Robinson
Jill Robinson (Michael Cullen)

He said that Robinson had two character references and the people supplying them were not public figures and should not be identified.

The barrister said that there was obviously a source that the material was coming from and “the court should be concerned as to why this is happening”.

Sam Magee KC for the prosecution said that he echoed the submissions made by Mr Fahy.

He said that the publication of this material was having a detrimental impact on the family of the victim.

He said at least one media outlet had quite properly applied to the court for the release of material but it was not clear how the documents were making their way into the press.

Judge Rafferty said that “on the face of it, it is a contempt” but added that his usual course of action would be to refer the matter to the Attorney General and he would consider that option.

The court heard that there were three character references for De Montmorency-Wright, two for Jill Robinson and none for Hayley Robb.

Mr Fahy said his concern now was what other material would find their way into the press including medical reports.

He said he would have no confidence that that won’t happen.

The judge said that the only proper access to court material was through him and “press freedom comes with press responsibility”.

The three women will be sentenced on Friday June 14.