Saturday 1 October 2016

Woman arrested on suspicion of murdering company director in her luxury home

Pat Hurst

Published 17/01/2016 | 14:47

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

A 34-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a company boss found knifed to death at her £450,000 home.

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The body of Sadie Hartley, 60, was found at about 10.40pm on Friday by police and paramedics called after an employee became concerned she had not been in touch.

She was discovered dead with "a number" of knife wounds at the detached, stone-built house on Sunny Bank Road in the village of Helmshore, Lancashire.

Her partner, ex-fireman Ian Johnston, is believed to have been away on a skiing holiday at the time.

Police said the victim is yet to be formally identified but the body is believed to be that of Ms Hartley.

It is thought Ms Hartley was last seen alive on Thursday at a conference in Manchester with a colleague.

A post-mortem examination carried out on Saturday evening confirmed the cause of death as multiple stab wounds.

A woman, aged 34 and from Chester, was arrested on suspicion of murder on Sunday and currently remains in police custody, Lancashire Police said.

A scene still remains in place at the house and detectives continue to carry out a number of enquiries.

Lancashire Police said CCTV enquiries have identified a vehicle and a number of people that officers would like to trace.

Ms Hartley is last known to have made contact with a work colleague at about 7.30pm on Thursday, January 14 but was not heard from since.

At around 8pm on that night an old-style Renault Clio car is seen on CCTV driving into Sunny Bank Road and driving off around a minute later. Officers want to trace this car.

They also want to trace a man seen walking out of the cul-de-sac and in the general direction of the village store and Holcombe Road.

He is seen to pass another person walking in the opposite direction into the cul-de-sac and a few moments later a jogger is seen on the footage.

House-to-house visits also continue as well as searches of the area around the house and forensic examination inside. Additional neighbourhood officers are also on patrol in the area.

Detective Superintendent Paul Withers, from Lancashire Police, said: "We are making steady progress with this complex investigation with an arrest being made overnight.

"I would continue to urge anyone with information who has not yet come forward to do so as soon as possible to help us build up a clear picture of Sadie's final movements and any suspicious activity in the area.

"We now know there was a Renault Clio car and at least three people all on Sunny Bank Road at around 8pm on Thursday January 14.

"We believe that this could be around the time that she was murdered and we want to trace these people as soon as possible."

Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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