Beachy Head woman remanded over husband's murder

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The Independent Online

A woman appeared in court today accused of murdering her estranged husband.

Sally Challen, 56, is alleged to have bludgeoned Richard Challen to death at his home in Claygate, near Esher, Surrey.

The 61-year-old was found dead on Sunday after he suffered "severe blunt force trauma to the head", Surrey Police said.

Challen, who was arrested on Sunday after she was persuaded to leave the edge of cliffs at Beachy Head, East Sussex, spoke only to confirm her name, address and date of birth during the three-minute hearing at Staines Magistrates' Court.

She was remanded in custody and will appear at Guildford Crown Court within the next 48 hours.

Challen, an office manager also of Claygate, Surrey, appeared in court flanked by a security guard, wearing a black sweatshirt.

Her voice seemed to shake as District Judge Clive Wiles asked her to confirm her details.

Mr Challen, a retired owner of a car dealership, died of severe blunt force trauma to the head, a post-mortem examination showed.

His two sons said earlier this week in a statement released through police: "This is an incredibly difficult time for us and we would like to thank the family and friends who have come forward and offered their support over the last few days.

"There has been a lot of speculation as a result of our father's death which has caused us additional distress and we would ask that we are now left in private as we try to deal with what has happened."

The couple are understood to have split up around a year ago. Mr Challen sold his car dealership, Westlake Garages in Richmond, south west London, when he retired in August 2008.

He received a 51-week prison term suspended for 18 months in 2006 when he crashed his Ferrari at a racetrack in Belgium then invented a hit-and-run accident to claim £35,000 for repairs.

The businessman tried the con because his wife had forgotten to send a fax to his insurers to get cover for the event.

The then 57-year-old told police a lorry hit the 183mph Berlinetta near his home but he confessed when his insurers became suspicious.

He pleaded guilty at Guildford Crown Court to attempting to obtain goods by deception.