Sadie Hartley death: Murder accused 'hunted victim like deer'

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

Two women accused of murdering a businesswoman "hunted" her "as you might stalk a deer", a jury has heard.

Sadie Hartley, 60 was stunned with a cattle prod and stabbed 40 times in Helmshore, Lancashire, on 14 January.

Sarah Williams, 35, and Katrina Walsh, 56, both from Chester, deny murder.

The prosecution claimed the pair were "determined and methodical" in their plot to fulfil Ms Williams' desire to be with the man she loved by killing his partner.

In his closing speech to jurors at Preston Crown Court, prosecutor John McDermott QC said the defendants were "cold-blooded murderers" who were attempting to deceive them.

'Grotesque parody'

He said: "Sarah Williams spent four days in this court in front of you, cool, calm and collected and as matter of fact as she could pretend to be.

"But the real Sarah Williams is a bitter, obsessive, arrogant woman who stops at nothing to get her own selfish way."

He asked them to recall the evidence of a witness who said Ms Williams went "feral" and acted like "a wild thing" during a row on a ski trip.

Mr McDermott said: "Imagine what it is like when she really hates somebody, as she did. The savagery inflicted on Sadie Hartley takes a special kind of mindset to deliver."

Sales adviser Ms Williams was previously in a relationship with Ian Johnston, 57, which ended when he refused to leave Ms Hartley, the court heard.

The 35-year-old earlier told the jury she was ill in bed at the time of the killing and said the evidence pointed to her co-accused Ms Walsh.

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

Horse riding instructor Ms Walsh, who did not give evidence, told police she thought she was participating in a game of the Channel 4 programme Hunted - in which teams of two try to go "off the grid" and avoid detection.

She told officers she did not believe Ms Williams was going to harm anyone.

Mr McDermott said the idea she thought she was in a game was "absurd" as discussions of the murder plot appeared in her diary before the programme was broadcast.

He said Ms Walsh had done her best to "remain anonymous" during the trial and she had created "a caricature of a fool" in her police interviews by playing "a grotesque parody of a half-baked, befuddled loon".

"These two were in fact hunters, not hunted. They hunted down Sadie Hartley as you might stalk a deer and then went in for the kill," he added.

Ms Williams, of Treborth Road, Blacon, Chester, and Ms Walsh, of Hare Lane, Chester, deny murder.

The trial continues.

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