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Jury out in Sadie Hartley stun gun murder trial

Published 16/08/2016

A jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the "love triangle" stun gun murder trial of a wealthy businesswoman.

Sarah Williams, 35, is accused of paralysing Sadie Hartley, 60, with a 500,000-volt stun gun before attacking her victim with "demonic savagery" with a kitchen knife on January 14, Preston Crown Court heard.

Ms Hartley, who had answered the door to "bunny boiler" Williams, was left in a pool of blood in the hallway of her £500,000 home, having suffered more than 40 stab wounds, it is alleged.

Her partner, ex-fireman Ian Johnston, 57, who was away on a skiing trip at the time, was the object of desire for "jealous and obsessive" Williams, who wanted Ms Hartley, a successful businesswoman out of the way, it is claimed.

During the trial, now in its seventh week, the jury heard that ski holiday firm worker Williams recruited her friend, horse riding instructor Katrina "Kitt" Walsh, 56, to execute the "perfect murder".

But in a plot said to be "the stuff of spy novels", John McDermott QC, prosecuting, told the jury that police recovered Walsh's detailed diary, chronicling the women's 18-month plan to murder Ms Hartley.

Jurors heard that the pair travelled to Germany to buy the stun gun last December and, exactly a week before Ms Hartley was murdered, Walsh delivered flowers to her door in a dry run for their plans.

Williams, who was a "kept woman" supported by her wealthy "sugar daddy" boyfriend, married David Hardwick, 75, wanted to be with Mr Johnston after they met at dry-ski slope the Chill Factore in Manchester in 2012.

After a brief relationship broke down, Mr Johnston had begun a new life with Ms Hartley, setting up home together in Helmshore, Lancashire.

But sex texts and explicit photos continued to be exchanged between Mr Johnston and Williams right up to just days before the murder, the court heard.

Mr Johnston has denied he "led her on", telling the jury the relationship was "just sex", but Walsh told police Williams would "do anything" to be with Mr Johnston, even planting secret tracker devices on his car to follow his movements.

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

Trial judge Mr Justice Turner sent the jury out at 10.44am on Tuesday morning.

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From Belfast Telegraph