‘Psycho ex’ who slew love rival is jailed for life

A “psycho” ex has been jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years 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.

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.

Sarah Williams
Sarah Williams

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.

Yesterday 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.

Katrina Walsh
Katrina Walsh

Williams swallowed hard as the forewoman delivered the “guilty” verdict, while Walsh gave a slight nod of her head. Ms Hartley’s daughter, Charlotte, 23, wiped away tears as she sat in the public gallery next to Garry Hartley, her father and Sadie’s ex-husband, and her brother, Harry.

Mr Johnston, sitting a few rows behind them, had tears in his eyes and gave a slight nod as the verdicts came in.

Outside court, Detective Superintendent Paul Withers, who led the investigation for Lancashire Police, 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.”

Knife used by Sarah Williams to murder Sadie Hartley.
Knife used by Sarah Williams to murder Sadie Hartley.

Williams, who described herself as a “she-devil” and “little psycho”, had sent Ms Hartley a “spiteful” letter in June 2014, claiming she and Mr Johnston had enjoyed “unbelievably fantastic sex... over and over and over again” behind her back, but it failed to end the relationship of the couple, who were both divorcees with grown-up children.

During seven weeks of evidence the jury heard that the plot had unfolded for 18 months, with Williams and Walsh travelling to Germany last December to buy the stun gun before purchasing a £430 second-hand Renault Clio and dark clothing to use in the “murder mission”.

Williams, who worked as a ski holiday sales rep, had secretly attached an electronic tracker to Mr Johnston’s car to follow his movements, determined to win him back.

Stun gun used by Sarah Williams to murder Sadie Hartley
Stun gun used by Sarah Williams to murder Sadie Hartley

 

Along with Walsh, she drove to Helmshore to check they had the right address, where Walsh handed over flowers to a surprised and disturbed Ms Hartley, saying “These are for you, Ms Hartley”.

A week later, almost exactly to the minute, Williams returned alone, dressed in dark clothing, armed with the stun gun and a 20cm carving knife, and killed her victim in an “orgy of violence”.

CCTV caught her arriving 35 metres from her victim’s home, going to the house, and returning four minutes and 40 seconds later, a “no-hesitation, determined and swiftly executed murder”.

Sadie Hartley
Sadie Hartley


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