Monday 26 September 2016

Woman (34) accused of stabbing company director to death in her luxury home

Kim Pilling

Published 20/01/2016 | 11:52

Mother-of-three Sadie Hartley Credit: Lancashire Constabulary/PA Wire
Mother-of-three Sadie Hartley Credit: Lancashire Constabulary/PA Wire

A woman charged with the murder of a 60-year-old businesswoman has made her first appearance in court.

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Sarah Williams, 34, of Blacon, Chester, is accused of killing Sadie Hartley, who was found stabbed to death at her home in Sunny Bank Road, Helmshore, Lancashire, on Friday evening.

Williams, of Treborth Road, was flanked in the dock at Blackburn Magistrates' Court by two female prison officers and stood with her head bowed throughout the three-minute hearing.

Wearing a grey shirt, grey trousers and black pumps, she spoke only to confirm her full address and date of birth before she was remanded in custody ahead of a preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court on Friday.

Police outside a house on Sunny Bank Road in Helmshore, Lancashire as a murder investigation has been launched after a 60-year-old woman was found dead Credit: Pat Hurst/PA Wire
Police outside a house on Sunny Bank Road in Helmshore, Lancashire as a murder investigation has been launched after a 60-year-old woman was found dead Credit: Pat Hurst/PA Wire

Earlier, she covered her face with a cream cardigan as she was led in handcuffs from the prison van into the building.

No pleas were entered to the allegation she murdered Ms Hartley on Thursday January 14.

Mother-of-two Ms Hartley was the director of her own medical communications business, Hartley Taylor, based in Knutsford, Cheshire.

Her long-term partner, retired firefighter Ian Johnston, 54, has been questioned by police but not as a suspect. During the summer he works as a technical adviser for International Camp Suisse, a summer school in the Swiss Alps.

Lancashire Police are continuing to question a 55-year-old woman from Chester in connection with the murder.

It is understood the suspect - arrested on Monday - is a friend of ski travel firm employee Williams.

Detectives have appealed for help in tracing several people seen near Ms Hartley's home on Thursday evening, including the driver of a passing car.

A police spokesman said officers wanted to identify a person seen passing a man as he walked out of Sunny Bank Road on Thursday evening and an unknown person who walked into the cul-de-sac before leaving a few minutes later.

They also want to trace the driver of an "old-style" Renault Clio which was seen arriving in Sunny Bank Road just before 8pm on the same night and driving off moments later.

The investigating team is also keen to hear from anyone with information about people asking for the location of Sunny Bank Road in the days or weeks leading up to the murder.

They said a man and a jogger seen on the road had been identified as local residents.

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