| 16.4°C Belfast

Second woman remanded on Sadie Hartley murder charge


Sadie Hartley was found dead at her house in Helmshore, Lancashire, on Friday evening

Sadie Hartley was found dead at her house in Helmshore, Lancashire, on Friday evening

Sadie Hartley was found dead at her house in Helmshore, Lancashire, on Friday evening

A second woman has appeared in court charged with the murder of 60-year-old businesswoman Sadie Hartley.

Katrina Walsh, 55, of Hare Lane, Chester, made her first appearance at Blackburn Magistrates' Court accused of killing Ms Hartley on January 14.

Walsh, who has thinning hair and was wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a green coat with a fur-trimmed hood, was flanked in the dock by two female officers during the two- minute hearing.

No pleas were entered to the allegation.

Walsh was remanded into custody to appear at Preston Crown Court on Friday ahead of a preliminary hearing along with co-defendant Sarah Williams.

Walsh looked frail and at one point bowed her head. She nodded as she was told by JPs that the case would be sent to the crown court.

On Wednesday, a second suspect, Williams, 34, of Blacon, Chester, appeared at the same court, also charged with the murder of Ms Hartley.

Williams did not enter a plea to the charge.

Mother-of-two Ms Hartley was found dead at her house in Sunny Bank Road, Helmshore, Lancashire, on January 15.

Ms Hartley had two grown-up children - Harry, 23, and Charlotte, 22.

A statement on behalf of the family read: "We are utterly devastated and cannot begin to understand why Mum should be taken so cruelly from us. The whole family is numb.

"She was the best mum we could have. She cared so much for our welfare and was a massive inspiration to us all. She was so excited about Charlotte's engagement just a week ago."

Ms Hartley's long-term partner, retired firefighter Ian Johnston, 54, also paid tribute to her.

He described Ms Hartley who ran a medical communications business, Hartley Taylor, in Knutsford, Cheshire, as a "respectable, hard-working person".

Mr Johnston, who during the summer works as a technical adviser for International Camp Suisse, had been on a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps when he learnt of his partner's death.

In a statement he described the murder as "an utter tragedy", adding that he and his partner's family had been left "distraught".

He said: "Sadie was a wonderful mother, sister, partner and friend.

"We are all utterly distraught following her senseless, brutal murder.

"She was a respectable, hard-working person who had run a successful business that supported medical services.

"It is an utter tragedy that she has been taken so unnecessarily from us and will be sadly missed by all those who knew her."