Two women from Chester have appeared in court to deny murdering a businesswoman at her home.

Sarah Williams, 34, and Katrina Walsh, 56, both replied “not guilty” to the charge of murdering mother-of-two Sadie Hartley, 60, in January this year.

Both defendants appeared at Preston Crown Court today (May 4) via videolink from separate prisons.

Ms Hartley, who ran her own medical communications business, was found dead from stab wounds at her detached home on Sunny Bank Road, in the village of Helmshore, Lancashire, on January 14.

Related story: Family pay tribute to 'best mum we could have'

Her adult son and daughter and other family members sat in the public gallery during the 50-minute hearing, which dealt largely with administrative matters ahead of a trial, after both defendants entered the not guilty pleas.

Williams, of Blacon , Chester, with dark red shoulder-length hair and wearing a beige trouser suit, sat impassive throughout, speaking only to confirm her name and enter her plea from HMP Styal.

Police near the scene in Helmshore, Lancashire, in January

Walsh, also from Chester, wore a dark top and a black beanie hat while appearing from HMP New Hall.

Judge Mark Brown ordered a further pre-trial hearing to take place on June 10 with a date of July 4 set for the trial, expected to last up to six weeks, at Preston.

Both defendants were remanded in custody ahead of the next hearing.