The partner of murdered Sadie Hartley has revealed how he has ‘lost everything’ after killer Sarah Williams, of Treborth Road in Blacon, pounced on his vulnerability before the horrific fatal stabbing.
Ian Johnston said he will carry regret for the rest of his life ‘foolishly’ getting involved in sex texts with killer Williams and becoming embroiled in a tragic ‘love triangle’.
The former fireman revealed he only found out during the trial that he was not in the will of Ms Hartley and was given just one day to remove his belongings from the £500,000 house they shared in Helmshore.
He had already sold his home to move in with Ms Hartley and says he now has nothing.
Ms Hartley’s family have also not spoken to him since she was murdered on her doorstep.
Mr Johnston, 57, said: “I’ve lost everything.
“I was given a day to get all my stuff out of the house.
“And Sadie wanted me to sell my house as a commitment to us, which is what I did, and she said she would provide for me.
“I’ve heard nothing since, although I guessed that I hadn’t been provided for. Then for a juror to ask a question, ‘Was I in the will?’ and for Mr McDermott to read back, ‘No I am not,’ that is the first official word I have ever had that I wasn’t provided for.
“Sadie had said she would make provision for me, because I sold my house. I’m not stupid enough at 56 to sell my house and open up the prospect of homelessness.
"There’s been absolutely no contact with Sadie’s family from the minute they found out she was dead.
“This eight months has just been the most horrendous, you just get a kicking every day and I want the kicking to stop now and I know it won’t for a while.”
Mr Johnston first met Williams in 2012 at indoor ski slope the Chill Factore in Manchester, where he taught skiing, Preston Crown Court heard. At the time he was single, retired after 31 years in the fire service and wanted to ‘chase some dreams’.
But his brief fling with ‘obsessive and jealous’ Williams, 35, soon ended and he began a new life with successful businesswoman Ms Hartley, 60, who he had known for more than 10 years.
The sex texts with Williams continued until the fateful night when she paralysed Ms Hartley with a 500,000 volt stun gun before stabbing her 40 times at their home on January 14.
Mr Johnston said Williams exaggerated their contact and he did not ‘lead her on’ but at the time was ‘vulnerable’ caring for his terminally ill mother.
A tearful Mr Johnston added: “If anybody wants to blame this on a few ridiculous, bloody texts then it’s just outrageous.
“She started texting me saying she’d started skiing again and she was sorry about my mum. I was vulnerable and I think she took advantage of that. I was foolish. I was unwittingly naive.
“I’ll carry this forever, overwhelming sense of regret that I got involved with texts.”
But he said the sex texts were ‘incidental’ to the killer’s plans, who he described as a ‘psychopath’.
He added: “I get the opinion that by engaging in these texts that people might feel that I’m culpable. I just think that’s a very, very hard judgement on me.
“I could understand a row gone wrong, but 18 months of planning for 40 odd knife wounds and I’m supposed to accept a few texts led to that. It’s not about the texts.”
Mr Johnston still lives in Helmshore, as he has done for more than 40 years, and is a team leader with the local mountain rescue group.
He thanked his family and friends locally for their support.
He added: “Everybody knows me. Everybody has been tremendous. And they know me from who I am and not what this small part of my life seems to have become. I’ve tried to keep my head up locally and not bow down to the suggestion that I was culpable.
“So 31 years in the fire service, 20 odd years mountain rescue, all that lot, that’s what’s defined me, a very good friend said, ‘Don’t let this define you. Be defined by who we know you are and not what this is being painted as by some people.”