Updated: ‘Stun gun used in assassination of Lancashire woman’

Sadie Hartley
Sadie Hartley
Share this article
3
Have your say

A jealous and obsessive woman paralysed her love-rival with a stun gun before stabbing and slashing her victim with “demonic savagery”, a murder trial heard..

Sarah Williams, 35, shot “decent, hard-working” former Wesham businesswoman Sadie Hartley, 60, in the head with the weapon on the doorstep of her £500,000 home in the village of Helmshore, Lancashire.

Williams then stabbed and slashed the mother of two 40 times in an “orgy of violence”, Preston Crown Court heard.

The defendant, who denies murder, had been in a past relationship with Ian Johnston, 57, Ms Hartley’s partner, who was out of the country at the time of the attack.

He had ended the relationship with Williams after she became “possessive and difficult” John McDermott, opening the case for the prosecution, told the jury.

“Obsessed” Williams “set her mind” to rekindle the relationship - but Ms Hartley, who owned a medical communications business, was the “obstacle”.

She recruited a second defendant, Katrina Walsh, 56, also from Chester, to help her with the “murderous mission” and who kept a “revealing” diary as they hatched the plot, the court heard.

At just after 8pm on January 14 this year, Ms Hartley received an unexpected knock at the door to her home, on an up-market road in the rural Lancashire village.

“What happened next is truly shocking,” Mr McDermott continued.

“Sarah Williams stood on the doorstep. As soon as the door was opened we suggest she lunged at Sadie Hartley with of all things a stun gun - the sort of thing you might use legitimately to prod cattle.

“She pressed it against her – Sadie Hartley’s head – and incapacitated her.

“Then with what can only be described as almost demonic savagery, she attacked her with a knife.

“She stabbed and slashed at this unfortunate woman; blow after blow, causing appalling and fatal injuries.

“She left her victim in a pool of blood in the hallway; closed the door; walked back to the car she had used on her murderous mission and set off back to her home in Cheshire.

“It was a premeditated, planned assassination of an innocent woman.”

Mr McDermott QC said Walsh kept “a remarkable, compelling record” of the “murderous aim” of her “good friend” Williams.

A September 2014 diary entry read: “Sarah came round so got caught up in endless murder plots for Ian’s other half”, while a June 2015 entry said: “We’re also seriously talking of getting rid of her opponent. I agree is probably a good play ... she does seem to be a totally evil bitch.”

The prosecutor told the jury: “Nothing could be further from the truth. Sadie Hartley was a decent, hard-working and much-loved guiltless woman. But in the skewed minds of these defendants, she had become the enemy and she had to go.”

In August 2015 there was “a sinister development”, said Mr McDermott, when Williams attempted to recruit Walsh’s ex-husband, Kevin Walsh, to her cause and use his “skill set”.

Detailing the contact in her diary, Walsh said: “Wow, I may get to be instrumental in helping remove the awful woman! This may happen. Wow! Am unexpectedly excited by it. Was so buzzing so much I needed a Southern Comfort to wind down a bit.”

Walsh texted her ex-husband to arrange a meeting but he later pulled out when he realised Williams was using an untraceable mobile phone, the court heard.

Walsh went on to write: “Plan B will be needed ... I have no moral qualms, just a serious don’t let us get caught twinge.”

Williams, from Treborth Road, Chester, and Walsh, of Hare Lane, Chester, both deny murder.