Second woman to appear in court over businesswoman’s murder

Sadie Hartley
Sadie Hartley
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A second woman has been charged with the murder of businesswoman Sadie Hartley who was found knifed to death at her home.

Katrina Walsh (55), of Hare Lane, Chester, is due to appear at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court after the mother-of-three was found dead at her house in Sunny Bank Road, Helmshore, on Friday evening.

Sarah Williams (34), of Blacon, Chester, appeared in court yesterday charged with the murder of Ms Hartley (60), who ran a medical communications businessin Knutsford, Cheshire.

Williams, of Treborth Road, did not enter a plea.

Ms Hartley has been described by her long-term partner Ian Johnston (54) as “a wonderful mother, sister, partner and friend”.

Mr Johnston, an ex-fireman and volunteer with Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue team, was on a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps at the time of his partner’s death.

In a statement he said he and the family of Ms Hartley - who had two grown-up daughters and a son - were “utterly 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.”

Mr Johnston was questioned by police but not as a suspect.

He added: “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.”

Detectives have appealed for help to trace several people seen near Ms Hartley’s home on Thursday evening last week, including the driver of a passing car.

Officers want to identify a person seen passing a man as he walked out of Sunny Bank Road that evening and an unknown person who walked into the cul-de-sac before leaving minutes later.

They also want to trace the driver of an “old-style” Renault Clio seen arriving in Sunny Bank Road just before 8pm on the night and driving off moments later, as well as anyone with information about people asking for the location of Sunny Bank Road in the days or weeks leading up to the murder.

A man and a jogger seen on the road had been identified as locals.