Sally Challen: Woman who killed ‘abusive’ husband with hammer wins appeal over murder conviction

Ms Challen must face a retrial for murder 

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Thursday 28 February 2019 16:22
Ms Challen says she killed her 61-year-old husband Richard after 40 years of being controlled and humiliated by him
Ms Challen says she killed her 61-year-old husband Richard after 40 years of being controlled and humiliated by him

Sally Challen has won a landmark appeal against her conviction for the murder of her husband at their home in Surrey.

Ms Challen, a mother-of-two who killed Richard Challen in a hammer attack, was sentenced to 22 years in prison back in 2011 and has already served eight years in prison.

The 65-year-old says she killed her 61-year-old husband after 40 years of being controlled and humiliated by him.

Her conviction for murder was overturned by judges at the Court of Appeal on Thursday, in light of the evidence of a psychiatrist that Ms Challen was suffering from two mental disorders at the time of the killing.

Ms Challen, who has made legal history with her case, burst into tears as the Court of Appeal announced that her murder conviction had been quashed. Several supporters present in court erupted into applause as the decision was announced.

But the panel of three leading judges ordered that Ms Challen must face a retrial for murder.

Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, said: “The Court of Appeal heard that, in the opinion of a consultant forensic psychiatrist, the appellant was suffering from two mental disorders at the time of the killing.

“This evidence was not available at the time of the trial and the court quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.”

Ms Challen was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years

Judges declined to hear an application by her lawyers for her to be released on bail. Her legal team is expected to pursue a bail bid at a future crown court hearing.

At her trial, Ms Challen, of Claygate, Surrey, admitted killing the former car dealer but denied murder, claiming diminished responsibility.

She was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years, later reduced on appeal by four years.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Coercive control was only passed into law in 2015 and was not widely understood as a type of domestic violence during the time of her trial.

The appeal gained the backing of leading domestic abuse charities and cross-party MPs.