Police Ombudsman report identified police ‘misconduct’ in early stages of Katie Simpson murder probe

A report has identified that police officers “committed misconduct” in the early part of their investigation into the death of showjumper Katie Simpson, PSNI chief constable Jon Boutcher has said. Mr Boutcher told the Policing Board that an internal disciplinary process has now begun and added the force would learn whatever lessons it could from the investigation into the death of the 21-year-old in 2020. Ms Simpson’s murder was originally thought by police to have been a suicide.

The trial of Jonathan Creswell, 36, over the rape and murder of Ms Simpson ended last month following his sudden death. Ms Simpson, who was from Tynan, Co Armagh, died in hospital almost a week after an incident in Gortnessy Meadows, Lettershandoney, on August, 3 2020. The chief constable was asked about the case during his monthly meeting with his oversight body by Alliance Party member Nuala McAllister. She said: “The death of Jonathan Creswell was a massive blow to justice for Katie and her family and loved ones. “I just want to ask to ensure that Katie’s legacy is that this never happens again to another woman and we rid society of violence against women and girls.”

Jonathan Creswell

Mr Boutcher confirmed that her death was initially treated as a suspected suicide in August 2020. He said that forensic opportunities would have been eroded due to the length of time between her being admitted to hospital and her death. He said: “It becomes harder to understand causes of death. Of course Katie never regained consciousness to say what had happened. “In effect, due to people raising concerns about Creswell and his behaviour, between August and December there were a number of concerns which led to a reassessment of what had happened. “In January of 2021 Creswell was determined as a suspect in the murder of Ms Simpson. In March he was arrested and prosecuted.” Mr Boutcher added: “There has been a PONI (Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland) investigation. “I have been in touch with the ombudsman this week with regard to that investigation to ensure that any information that we have about our response has been properly examined so that we understand any lessons learnt, which I promise you we will undertake. “We have had a circa 1,400 page report from the ombudsman which has identified officers having committed misconduct, not gross misconduct or criminal. “That misconduct process is now under way through our professional standards department under the stewardship of the deputy chief constable.” He added: “Anything we need to do in this organisation with regard to violence against women and girls, we will. “We now know from Creswell’s lifestyle that there were additional violent offences that he committed. “Whatever we need to learn from this, we most certainly will learn from this.” Temporary assistant chief constable Davy Beck told the board: “I can confirm that while Katie Simpson was being treated in hospital a member of the public did contact the police due to concerns they had regarding the incident, suggesting it may not have been a suicide attempt. “This was flagged to CID officers and as a result of that a forensic post-mortem examination was directed and a CID detective attended the post-mortem which was conducted on August 11 to help and advise the pathologist.” He added: “On the basis of those findings and on the basis of the evidence available at that time, it was accepted by police that the incident was non-suspicious. “Clearly other information came forward in the weekend that followed that again required further examination.

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