Two women found guilty of brutal murder of Sadie Hartley

17/08/2016

Two friends, Sarah Williams and Katrina Walsh, have been found guilty of the murder of Sadie Hartley who was stabbed to death at her home in Helmshore, Lancashire last January.

Williams previously had a relationship with Sadie Hartley's partner Ian Johnston. She killed Sadie with the assistance of a stun gun and by stabbing her over 40 times when she answered the door on the evening of 14 January.  Her body was found by police officers in the hallway the following day after family and friends raised concerns that they had not been able to contact her.

Although the attack on Sadie was committed by Williams alone, the court heard during the trial how she and Walsh jointly planned the murder in great detail in the weeks beforehand.  Their preparations even extended to travelling to Germany to buy a stun gun and secretly placing a tracker device on Ian Johnston's car to find out where he and Sadie Hartley were living.

Williams and Walsh both denied murder but were found guilty after a six-week trial at Preston Crown Court.

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."