Lancashire

Sadie Hartley: Murder suspect says 'macabre test run' was idea of co-accused

Sadie Hartley Image copyright Family of Sadie Hartley
Image caption Sadie Hartley was stabbed 40 times at her house on Sunny Bank Road in Helmshore

A woman accused of murdering a love rival took flowers to her adversary's home in a "macabre test run", a court heard.

Sarah Williams, 35, claims delivering flowers to Sadie Hartley, who was murdered a week later, was the idea of her co-defendant Katrina Walsh, 56.

The Crown says it was a dry run by both women as reconnaissance for the murder.

Ms Hartley, 60, was paralysed with a stun gun and stabbed 40 times in Helmshore, Lancashire on 14 January.

Ms Williams and Ms Walsh, both from Chester, deny murder.

The prosecution claims Ms Williams, who had had an affair with Ms Hartley's partner, Ian Johnston, 57, was driven by a jealous desire to "get rid of" the mother of two.

But Ms Williams claims she was in bed ill at the time of the murder and that the evidence points to Ms Walsh as the perpetrator.

On January 7, the two women visited a Tesco store in Haslingden where Ms Williams bought a £3 bunch of chrysanthemums, Preston Crown Court heard.

The aim of the night-time delivery was perhaps to see if Ms Hartley opened her front door, how she might be dressed or to make sure it was her address, the prosecution said.

'Giggling'

Image caption Sadie Hartley, a mother-of-two, was found dead in the hallway of her house in Rossendale

Giving evidence, ski travel firm worker Ms Williams said they went into Tesco to use the toilet and that she bought the flowers at Ms Walsh's request.

"I paid for the flowers and we walked out and I asked who are these for. There was a little giggle and she said 'I have got an idea'", Ms Williams told the court.

"She said Sadie was renting a house in Helmshore near Ian. I asked her how she knew and she laughed, and in an expression she uses she said 'I have my ways'.

"There was more giggling and she said she wanted to know what she looked like. At the time it was a bit silly."

Ms Walsh delivered the flowers with Ms Williams nearby out of sight - but not hiding, she said.

The following day, Ms Hartley emailed her business partner to say the episode was a "bit creepy" and "needless to say had a bad sleep last night as a result!"

Asked by prosecutor John McDermott QC if she thought it "was a giggly and girlie thing to do to the partner of the man you were throwing yourself at". Ms Williams replied: "It was silly, it was ridiculous."

Mr McDermott said: "What is ridiculous is this story", adding "it was pretty creepy what you were giggling about."

The defendant replied: "It was certainly not intended by me to be creepy. Looking back, it was a stupid thing to allow to have happened."

Ms Williams reiterated she had no desire to hurt Ms Hartley. The case continues.

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