Northern Ireland

Showjumper Katie Simpson murdered out of ‘jealousy’, trial hears

Prosecution will maintain accused James Cresswell ‘raped, strangled and killed’ Katie with whom he had previously been with in an ‘illicit’ sexual relationship

Katie Simpson (21)
Katie Simpson

A jury has been told that equestrian showjumper Katie Simpson was murdered due to ‘jealousy’ after Jonathan Cresswell discovered she was in a relationship with someone else.

Prosecution counsel Sam Magee KC was opening the case against Cresswell (36) of Briar Hill Gardens in Greysteel, Co Derry, who is accused of Ms Simpson’s murder on August 9 2020 and one charge of rape on a date between August 2 and August 4 2020.

The trial is being held at Derry Crown Court sitting in Coleraine and Mr Magee was outlining the prosecution case on Tuesday.

He said the prosecution would maintain Cresswell had raped, strangled and killed Ms Simpson with whom he had previously had sexual relations.

The 21-year-old died following an incident in Gortnessy Meadows, Lettershandoney, on 3 August 2020.

Ms Simpson, who was from the village of Tynan in Co Armagh, died in Altnagelvin Hospital six days later, having never regained consciousness.

In an opening submission at the beginning of the first day of the trial, the prosecution said Creswell had previous “illicit” sexual relations with Ms Simpson and attacked her after discovering that she was in a relationship with someone else.

Mr Magee said it was the prosecution view that Cresswell had then sought to “cover up” what had happened by making it appear like suicide.

The jury further heard the prosecution would maintain that Cresswell had covered up the murder by making it appear that the deceased taken her own life.

The prosecution barrister said that Cresswell pretended he was “the unfortunate individual” who had discovered the body.

He said the prosecution would maintain that Cresswell took Ms Simpson’s life in “a violent rage”.

Outling the prosecution case the jury was told that the deceased was in the early stages of a new relationship and was frightened that Cresswell would find out.

The jury was given telephone logs relating to messages between the defendant, the deceased and the new person in her life.

Mr Magee KC said that Ms Simpson deleted messages from her phone so that Cresswell would not see them.

He said that on the Saturday night after she had spent the night with her new partner they were worried that another member of the equestrian set she was involved with had seen the man in the morning and told Cresswell.

The prosecutor said that both Ms Simpson and the man were “becoming increasingly concerned” that Cresswell would find out they had been together.

The jury heard that later in the evening there were a series of text messages from the man to Ms Simpson that went unanswered.

The court heard that phone evidence put Cresswell along with the deceased after Katie Simpson had taken part in a horse show.

Mr Magee said that a “pivotal message” was sent by the other man in which he said he had not driven an hour and a half “just to sleep with you.”

He said this message confirmed Cresswell’ s “worst fears” that the deceased had slept with another man.

The prosecution said that by this stage Cresswell had control of Ms Simpson’s phone.

Mr Magee said that after Cresswell would have seen the message he had killed her in “pure rage and jealousy.”

The trial continues.