Woman faces life in jail for “demonic” murder of love rival

Share this article
6
Have your say

A “psycho” ex is facing life in jail for the gruesome stun gun murder of her love rival.

Sarah Williams, 35, shot successful businesswoman Sadie Hartley, 60, with a 500,000-volt stun gun as her unsuspecting victim answered the door at her home, Preston Crown Court heard.

Katrina Walsh, left, and Sarah Williams have both been found guilty of murdering Sadie Hartley

Katrina Walsh, left, and Sarah Williams have both been found guilty of murdering Sadie Hartley

Seconds later, with “demonic savagery”, she used a kitchen knife to stab the semi-paralysed mother-of-two in the face and neck, inflicting more than 50 injuries, before leaving her in a pool of blood in the hallway of the £500,000 house in Helmshore, Lancashire.

Ms Hartley was home alone because her partner, Ian Johnston, was away on a skiing trip in the Swiss Alps.

Williams, described as a “bunny boiler” and “kept woman” who was already in a relationship with a wealthy 75-year-old “sugar daddy” and having affairs with other men, had a brief fling with ex-fireman Mr Johnston.

He had dumped “obsessive and jealous” Williams and begun a new life with Ms Hartley - but explicit photos and sex texts continued between the pair while Williams plotted the “perfect murder” for 18 months to kill her rival and win him back.

Sadie Hartley

Sadie Hartley

Today she was convicted of the murder on January 14, alongside her accomplice, horse riding instructor, Katrina “Kitt” Walsh, 56, following a seven-week trial.

Both women, from Chester, had denied murder and blamed each other.

Following the verdicts, Detective Supt Paul Withers, from Lancashire Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: “This murder was nothing short of the cold-blooded, premeditated and carefully planned assassination of an entirely innocent woman and I welcome today’s verdicts.

“I would like to offer my thanks to the jury for their careful consideration of all of the facts in this case and the prosecution team for all of their hard work in bringing this case to court and to a successful conclusion.

Det Supt Paul Withers of Lancashire Police

Det Supt Paul Withers of Lancashire Police

“While it may have been Sarah Williams who carried out the actual killing of Sadie Hartley, there can be no doubt that Katrina Walsh helped her every step of the way and was up to her neck in the planning of this brutal slaying. They are both as culpable as each other.

“I’d like to pay tribute to Sadie Hartley’s family who have conducted themselves with dignity throughout this trial and following the unimaginable horror of what happened to their loved one. I can only hope that today’s verdicts offer them a chance to start to move on with the rest of their lives and our thoughts remain with them.

“I would also like to pay tribute and to thank all of the officers and staff who worked so hard to investigate this dreadful crime and to bring these two women to justice. An incredible amount of dedication, professionalism has gone in to helping secure today’s convictions.

“Finally, I would like to thank the community of Helmshore, especially those in Sunnybank Road, for their understanding and support during the early stages of this investigation. Their co-operation was vital.”

Wendy Evans, Senior Crown Prosecutor from CPS North West, said: “Sarah Williams killed Sadie Hartley in a frenzied and brutal attack in her own home. She knew that Sadie would be alone at that time and ensured that she had no opportunity to defend herself. It was a pre-meditated, cold-blooded murder.

“She was motivated by jealousy and a desire to get rid of the woman she saw as her rival and recruited her friend Katrina Walsh to the plan. Although Katrina Walsh didn’t take part in the vicious attack on Sadie, she knew what was being plotted and played a full role in the planning and preparations and later in the disposal of evidence.

“They believed they had planned the perfect murder and had covered all their tracks, when in fact they were leaving behind a trail of evidence. The prosecution team sifted through and pieced together the many strands of evidence in this case and proved the defendants’ guilt so that the jury were sure of it.

“Throughout this trial Sarah Williams protested her innocence and pointed the blame for the murder at Katrina Walsh. In her police interviews, Katrina Walsh claimed that she thought the plot was just an elaborate game. The jury have seen through those lies and have today found them both jointly responsible for murdering Sadie Hartley.

“Above all my thoughts and sympathies are with Sadie’s family and her many friends today for the devastating loss they have suffered, and I hope that these verdicts will provide some comfort at this very difficult time.”