A 33-year-old man has been charged with murdering his partner’s younger sister, in what was allegedly set up to appear as a suicide attempt.
Jonathan James Creswell of Briar Hill Gardens, Greysteel, appeared before a special sitting of Dungannon Magistrates Court on Saturday, March 6, by video-link from police custody.
He is accused of murdering Katie Simpson - who would have been 22 tomorrow – following an alleged incident on August 3 last year.
She died in the Intensive Care Unit of Altnagelvin Hospital on August 9, having never regained consciousness.
Formerly from Armagh, Miss Simpson was admitted just under a week earlier following an incident at a house in Gortnessy Meadows, Dungiven. At the time, the property was the home of Mr Creswell and his partner Christina, who is Katie’s older sister.
A detective sergeant told the court he believed he could connect the accused to the charge.
He explained an ambulance responded to a report of an alleged suicide attempt, having been called by Mr Creswell.
He claimed to have rescued her and placed her into her own car then driven out to meet the ambulance.
However medical staff were concerned as there were no obvious ligature marks, although there were unaccounted for injuries about her body.
Only her upper body was clothed, and her laptop and phone were missing.
While the cause of death was attributed to pneumonia it was initially believed this was a result of the alleged suicide attempt.
Evidence indicated the victim had hidden the fact she had started seeing a boyfriend.
The detective said: “It is our belief the defendant discovered this relationship. The day before the incident Katie had been showjumping in Lurgan. She was not permitted to drive her own car back home afterwards and was instructed to travel with the defendant who ordered another person to drive her car.”
He said police believed the accused had been controlling Katie since she around the age of nine, having met her after beginning a relationship with her sister.
When arrested, Mr Creswell claimed to have been in a sexual relationship with the victim for about four years. He claimed that after the showjumping he drove to Lifford on Katie’s insistence to have sex at a place she liked. However there were too many people there so they drove to another area and had sex.
He then claims they went home and he spent the night in her bedroom, again having sex, while his partner slept in the room next door with their two children.
Mr Creswell accepted having Miss Simpson’s phone and when she was being placed in the ambulance, switched it to flight-mode to cut the network connection. He then dumped it in a field, and admitted this was a foolish mistake.
The detective sergeant remarked: “The messages recovered clearly indicate Katie was in immense fear of this man. He was constantly checking her phone and insisting on knowing the unlocking codes.”
A defence barrister requested bail to be granted pointing out his client had answered all questions put to him.
He said Mr Creswell’s family and friends had come together and offered a collective cash surety and his partner could surrender his passport.
However District Judge Steven Keown threw out the application ruling the risks presented were too great to allow the accused to be released.