THE two women standing trial for the alleged murder of Helmshore businesswoman Sadie Hartley have been described as ‘vile’ by a defence barrister.

Tony Cross QC, defending Katrina Walsh, who did not give evidence, described both his client and her fellow defendant Sarah Williams unfavourably but suggested his client did not know Williams was capable of murder.

He told the jurors if they were not sure Walsh, who documented the alleged murder plot in a series of diaries, was guilty of murder as an accomplice, then they must consider a verdict of manslaughter.

He said it was Williams, who wanted Ms Hartley dead so she could have her victim’s partner Ian Johnston, 57, to herself.

The prosecution said Williams drove to Sunny Bank Road, Helmshore on January 14 and incapacitated Ms Hartley with a 500,000-volt stun gun as she opened her front door, and then stabbed her to death.

It is claimed the pair had a trial run to the murder site delivering flowers to Ms Hartley.

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

Mr Cross QC said Williams committed ‘uncontrolled butchery’ before telling the police ‘brazen lies’ and the jury ‘absolute nonsense’. He added that he ‘felt for her lawyer’ having to defend a woman who had demonstrated ‘evil’.

He said Williams was guilty of murder, adding: “There is absolutely no doubt of her guilt.

“She knows she’s guilty of it and I suspect she knows you know she’s guilty of it.

“The only issue which you may have to consider is the fate of my lay client.

“She, like her co-accused, is vile, is she not?”

He said Walsh had accompanied Williams to buy the stun gun, had bought the knife, car and dark clothing used by her co-accused and took part in the “clean-up”, destroying evidence afterwards.

And her chronicling the murder plot in her diary also pointed to her guilt, the jury was told.

But Mr Cross said if she believed Williams was really going to murder Ms Hartley, she would not have helped police and told them about her diaries detailing her involvement.

He said Walsh wrote in her diary of the plot, entitled ‘Operation scare the bitch witless’, and ‘low-grade revenge’ was her level, not violence of the ‘murderous kind’.

He added: “Did this mature woman believe that her friend of all those years, this middle class woman, friend to retired teachers, on the face of it ostensibly respectable, who did no more than let people’s tyres down and eke out low-grade revenge, did she really believe she would actually stab a woman to death?

“But most importantly, when you consider what it was she actually did, what part she played in this quite dreadful crime, ask yourself this very important question. Am I sure that she is guilty of murder?”

The trial was adjourned until Monday.