A forty-eight year Blackpool woman, Tracey Simmonds, has been found guilty of the manslaughter of her childhood friend, Jeremy ‘Jez’ Fitzsimmons following a four day trail at Preston Crown Court. The offence happened in September 2017 when Simmonds had stabbed the victim with a screwdriver causing four puncture wounds to his torso and back.
The Preston Crown Court jury heard that the victim died from complications after a brutal joint attack by Tracey Simmonds and James ‘Jimmy’ Walton (who has since died) which occurred nearly six years ago. At the time, Mr Fitzsimmons was treated for the stab wound and he appeared to make a full recovery. But, two years later, in September 2019, Mr Fitzsimmons went to Blackpool Victoria A&E with severe gastric issues.
It was initially thought that Mr Fitzsimmons was suffering the effects of alcohol withdrawal but it later was found that an unnoticed injury to his diaphragm, sustained during the 2017 attack, had become infected and he subsequently died from peritonitis. Mr Fitzsimmons was found dead at his home on 5th October 2019.
In 2018, both Simmonds and Walton pleaded guilty to the stabbing attack and were jointly sentenced for the wounding offence. However following Mr Fitzsimmons’ death, Simmonds, 48, of Argosy Road, Grange Park, was charged with manslaughter – an offence she denied.
Simmonds claimed in Court she was not guilty of killing Mr Fitzsimmons, who she had known since primary school and considered a friend. She said the fatal injury was caused by the now deceased Walton, and Mr Fitzsimmons would not have died if his injury had been spotted at hospital in 2019.
However, the jury found she was jointly involved in the original attack, and Mr Fitzsimmons would not have required hospital treatment had he not been stabbed in 2017.
Walton will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on 20th March 2023.