The ‘devastated’ family of businesswoman Sadie Hartley have said they are ‘numb’ and paid tribute to the ‘best mum we could have’.

Ms Hartley, 60, was found dead with a ‘number’ of knife wounds at her home in Lancashire on January 15.

Sarah Williams, 34, of Treborth Road, Blacon , and Katrina Walsh, 55, of Hare Lane, Guilden Sutton , have both been charged with murder.

Walsh fainted when she appeared at Preston Crown Court via prison video link on January 22.

A family statement said: “We are utterly devastated and cannot begin to understand why mum should be taken so cruelly from us.

“The whole family is numb. She was the best mum we could have.

Murder victim Sadie Hartley

“She cared so much for our welfare and was a massive inspiration to us all. She was so excited about Charlotte’s engagement just a week ago.”

Police were called to Ms Hartley’s address in Sunny Bank Road, Helmshore, after colleagues became concerned she had not been in contact.

The 60-year-old was a company director at Hartley Taylor medical communications.

Her partner Ian Johnston, a member of the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team (RPMRT), said she was ‘a wonderful mother, sister, partner and friend’.

He said: “We are all utterly distraught following her senseless brutal murder.

“She was a respectable hard-working person who had run a successful business that supported medical services.

“It is an utter tragedy that she has been taken so unnecessarily from us and will be sadly missed by all those who knew her.

“The family now respectfully wish and hope they may be left in peace to enable them to cope with this terrible event.”

The statement added they wanted to express thanks to Detective Superintendent Paul Withers, who is leading the investigation, as well as the family liaison officers who have been providing support.

Sarah Williams, left, and Katrina Walsh, both with their faces covered, pictured outside magistrates court

Williams and Walsh remain in custody and will next appear before the courts for a hearing on May 4.