Two women have been found guilty of the January mu*rder of Sadie Hartley, a 60-year-old businesswoman in Lancashire.
The Preston Crown Court heard that Sarah Williams, 35, shot Ms. Hartley with a stun gun with 500,000 volts as she answered her door.
Williams then stabbed the mother of two, who was partially paralysed, in the face and neck with a kitchen knife, inflicting more than 50 injuries.
Ms. Hartley was discovered lying in a pool of blood in her Helmshore home’s hallway.
Williams was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years.
Katrina Walsh, age 56, was also given a life sentence, but with a shorter minimum term of 25 years in prison.
Williams had become obsessed with Ms Hartley’s partner, 57-year-old former fireman Ian Johnston, with whom she had a brief fling.
In court, she was called a “bunny boiler” and a “kept woman” who was already in a relationship with a wealthy 75-year-old “sugar daddy.”
Even after Mr. Johnston ended the relationship, the couple continued to exchange text messages.
Williams wanted him back and saw Ms Hartley as the obstacle.
She recruited Walsh and planned the m*urder after recruiting him.
The plot was detailed in Walsh’s diary as it developed. One read: “Wow, I may be instrumental in helping to remove the awful woman.”
A second individual stated, “I have no moral qualms, just a serious don’t let us get caught twinge.”
Together, they travelled to Germany to purchase the stun gun. Walsh purchased the knife.
A week prior to the mu*rder, they were captured on surveillance footage conducting a sinister trial run.
They purchased a bouquet of flowers and delivered them to Ms. Hartley, prompting Ms. Hartley to text Mr. Johnston, expressing concern that a stranger had shown up at her door.
Three days after the mur*der, Williams was detained. Blood in her bath and in her getaway vehicle helped to implicate her in the crime.
The police tracked her movements as she plotted the mu*rder using a tracking device she had used to secretly follow Mr. Johnston and then abandoned in her car.
Mr. Johnston acknowledges that he and Mr. Williams exchanged explicit text messages, which he regrets deeply.
He sobbed and said, “If people feel that I have let them down in any way, that I am responsible for texting, I am profoundly sorry and will forever regret it.
“I never for a moment believed that a few frivolous texts could lead to such horrific events and unimaginable loss for not only me, but also Sadie’s family, her children, and our friends.”
The investigation was led by Detective Superintendent Paul Withers for Lancashire Police.
Speaking outside of court, he stated, “This mu*rder was nothing less than the cold-blooded, premeditated, and meticulously planned assassination of a completely innocent woman, and I applaud today’s verdicts.”
“While it is possible that Sarah Williams was responsible for the actual mu*rder of Sadie Hartley, there is no doubt that Katrina Walsh assisted her every step of the way and was deeply involved in the planning of this brutal mur*der.”
“Both parties are equally responsible”
Charlotte Hartley, the daughter of Ms. Hartley, was abroad when she received a call from police informing her of her mother’s m*urder.
“I had just gotten engaged three days prior to receiving the phone call,” she stated.
“I went from an unbelievable high to an unbelievable low.
“It was beyond description. You obviously think it would never happen to you and at that moment in time all you want to do is be back home, but I knew she wasn’t going to be there when I got back anyway.
My mother was a very caring, gentle, kind woman who was always joyful and incredibly trustworthy – an all-around remarkable woman.