Sunday 23 October 2016

Woman accused of stun gun murder had affair with married ski instructor who broke it off after she got 'too close'

Published 25/07/2016 | 17:34

Somapat Sitiwatjana leaves Preston Crown Court after he gave evidence in the trial of Sarah Williams who is accused of the murder of Sadie Hartley
Somapat Sitiwatjana leaves Preston Crown Court after he gave evidence in the trial of Sarah Williams who is accused of the murder of Sadie Hartley
Somapat Sitiwatjana and his wife Janet Sitiwatjana arrive at Preston Crown Court to give evidence in the trial of Sarah Williams who is accused of the murder of Sadie Hartley

Alleged stun gun murderer Sarah Williams had an affair with another ski instructor who was married with two children, a jury has heard.

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Williams, 35, had a relationship with Somapat Sitiwatjana, 47, after he taught her to ski at Manchester's Chill Factore indoor ski centre five years ago.

The fling allegedly ended before the defendant went on to meet ski instructor Ian Johnston, 57, who was said to have jilted her after she became possessive and difficult.

The Crown say Williams's obsession with ex-fireman Mr Johnston drove her to murder his partner, Sadie Hartley, 60, at her home in Helmshore, Lancashire, on January 14 this year.

Somapat Sitiwatjana and his wife Janet Sitiwatjana arrive at Preston Crown Court to give evidence in the trial of Sarah Williams who is accused of the murder of Sadie Hartley
Somapat Sitiwatjana and his wife Janet Sitiwatjana arrive at Preston Crown Court to give evidence in the trial of Sarah Williams who is accused of the murder of Sadie Hartley

Thai-born Mr Sitiwatjana, who runs a martial arts gym, said he broke off his relationship ith Williams after she "got too close".

His wife of 25 years, Janet, found out he had been unfaithful when Williams visited the family home while he was away in Thailand in 2012, Preston Crown Court heard.

A letter was also sent to Mrs Sitiwatjna at around the same time.

The witness said he and Williams would meet up in hotels for sex but he did not see it as a serious relationship.

John McDermott QC, prosecuting, asked: "Did there come a time when she wanted it to be a serious relationship?"

Mr Sitiwatjana said: "She wanted to see more and more of me."

The prosecutor said: "Did you want that to happen?"

He replied: "No, because I have my own business to run and I have my own family."

Asked why he decided to end the affair, he said: "She got too close."

He said he returned to the UK from Thailand in September 2012 and he and his wife "talked it over".

He described how Williams went on to turn up unannounced at his gym in Manchester and park outside in her car.

Mr Sitiwatjana said she would drive off quickly when he spotted her, but on one occasion he asked why she was there and Williams told him she was seeing a friend.

He recalled an incident where all four tyres of his Mercedes Benz car were deflated in the Chill Factore car park.

Mr Sitiwitjana said he did not have a lot of enemies.

He agreed with Gordon Cole QC, defending Williams, that he had told Williams he loved her "many, many times" in text messages and that they called each other "sweetie".

Some of the texts were also "very graphic sexual texts", he agreed.

He denied that Williams's then partner, 75-year-old businessman David Hardwick, was the cause of arguments between the pair during their affair.

Mr Cole said: "You had a view of David, that he was her 'sugar daddy'?"

The witness replied: "Yes, sir."

Mr Cole said: "And she didn't like you using that phrase?"

Mr Sitiwatjana said: "I don't remember."

Mr Cole said: "She would correct you when you used that phrase about David. She would say 'Don't say that, don't use that phrase'?"

The witness said: "I don't remember."

Mr Sitiwatjana also said he could not recall asking Williams to send photographs of her to him.

He said he did not remember either being in text message and WhatsApp contact with Williams while he was in Thailand and then again in October 2012.

Mr Cole asked: "Did you ever see her again and restart your relationship in May and June of 2013?"

Mr Sitiwatjana replied: "No, sir."

Williams, 35, a customer sales adviser at Crystal Ski Holidays - based at the Chill Factore - is said to have incapacitated Ms Hartley with a stun gun before stabbing her more than 40 times with "demonic savagery".

The court has previously heard that she sent a letter to Ms Hartley in September 2014 detailing her relationship with Mr Johnston.

Williams, of Treborth Road, Blacon, Chester, denies murder.

Her co-accused, horse riding instructor Katrina Walsh, 56, also denies murder.

Walsh is said to have helped her friend with the killing and allegedly wrote about staging the "perfect murder" in diaries recovered at her workplace.

Giving evidence, Mrs Sitiwatjana, 45, said she rang the police in September 2012 to report that Williams was harassing her with unwanted texts and visits to her home.

She said she wanted advice on how to deal with Williams who had "freaked her out".

In May 2012, Williams knocked on the front door of her home saying she wanted back a set of skis said to have been bought as a birthday present for Mr Sitiwatjana.

Mrs Sitiwatjana said: "She said she had bought them for £1,000 and wanted them back. I told her she was not getting any skis, I owned everything in that house. She was not taking anything away."

She said Williams went on to say that she and Mr Sitiwatjana loved each other but he was cheating on Williams with someone else and "he was not getting away with it".

Mrs Sitiwatjana said: "I just asked her to leave at that point and told her not to come back to my house again."

About two weeks later she said she received a hand-delivered letter - containing many typed pages - which gave "full chapter and verse" about the affair, the court heard.

The letter began: "Dear Janet, I think you should know about the sort of scumbag you are married to..."

Williams wrote that she had been in a relationship with Mr Sitiwatjana - known in local martial arts circles as Master A - for more than a year and they were "absolutely in love with each other", the jury was told.

References were made to text messages that were "explicit in the extreme" and that the lovers were "seeing each other a couple of times a week, texting incessantly and making love whenever we could".

Williams went on to explain it had taken time to "tell the full story as I have had to prioritise other things".

Saying she was six weeks pregnant, she wrote: "I am keeping the baby and let's hope the baby does not turn out like him, happy to take DNA test to prove it."

Mrs Sitiwatjana said her husband had had a vasectomy by this stage.

The letter continued: "You may think I am a bitter and vengeful bitch for telling you this or may be actually glad someone actually did."

Another reference was made to Mr Sitiwatjana being "a liar, cheat and a total bastard" as the sender wrote: "I told him to stop it. I warned him I would blow him out of the water if he continued. Now it's time for him to pay the price."

The witness told the court she and her husband split up for a time as he went to Thailand for four months.

In that period, Mrs Sitiwatjana said she received a text from Williams's phone which read: "I'm glad you got rid of that bastard."

Text messages continued to flow to her phone, the witness said: "They seemed to be getting more and more irate. There were never any threats against me. It was purely anger that I was not reacting."

Then, she said, Williams parked opposite her house one afternoon with her window wound down "just staring".

Mrs Sitiwatjana said: "I think I pointed at her to let her know I knew she was there and she then drove off."

She said she texted Williams to warn her to stay away from her family but that the defendant returned to the same spot on a later occasion and watched the house again from her car.

The witness said: "It made me really uncomfortable. It freaked me out. I couldn't understand why she would want any dialogue with me."

She said she decided to ring the non-emergency police number and complain that she was being harassed.

An incident report was logged which noted that a text would be sent to the alleged perpetrator to give an official police warning that they were not to contact Mrs Sitiwatjana again, otherwise there would be consequences.

The witness said she did not hear from Williams again.

Mrs Sitiwatjana, a physiotherapist, said she noticed in May 2011 that Williams was posting comments on her husband's Facebook page.

At one point, she said, she thought the pair were in a relationship and she confronted her husband, "who denied everything".

She said her husband would block her on Facebook but messages continued after the family returned from holiday in October 2011.

Mrs Sitiwatjana told her husband not to see Williams again, the jury heard.

She told Mr Cole she never had any suspicions that Mr Sitiwatjana was also cheating on her with a 19-year-old foreign student who visited his gym.

She said she thought Williams mentioned the student when she visited her home.

Mr Cole said Mrs Sitiwatjana had said Williams was in a silver car when she was parked outside her home, but the defendant was driving a black Renault Megane at the time.

He suggested to her that it was not Williams's car and she was not there.

Mrs Sitiwatjana replied: "That is what I saw."

She also denied inviting Williams into her house to meet her family when she turned up unannounced in April 2012.

Mr Cole went on: "And then you pulled her in the hallway door."

Mrs Sitiwatjana said: "No I did not. The whole time I never touched that woman."

The barrister continued: "The conversation, as far she was concerned, was trying to be calm and trying to get the skis and leave?"

The witness replied: "No, she wanted to tell me all about her relationship with my husband."

Anthony Cross QC, defending Walsh, said the witness made a number of things plain when she made a statement to police investigating the murder.

He said: "One thing you made plain is this - 'this statement has been very difficult as it has brought up lots of bad memories and the fact that Sarah Williams has been charged with murder has made me more conscious about my safety and the safety of my family'.

"And, of course, you were experiencing a similar feeling of unease, weren't you, when you rang the police on September 10 2012?"

Mrs Sitiwatjana said: "Yes, I was getting very scared and freaked out at this point."

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