Surrey

Sally Challen: No fresh trial over husband murder

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Media captionSpeaking to reporters during a press conference, Sally Challen said: "I still love Richard and miss him dreadfully"

An abused woman who killed her husband with a hammer will not face a retrial after prosecutors accepted her manslaughter plea.

Sally Challen, 65, was found guilty of murdering 61-year-old Richard in Surrey and jailed for life in 2011.

Her conviction was quashed in February and she had been due to face a second murder trial next month.

Instead, she has been sentenced to nine years and four months for manslaughter - but walked free due to time served.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Mrs Challen thanked her family, who she said had "served my sentence with me", adding: "Their support and visits have kept me going in what has been a long and terrible nine years."

She said: "I still love Richard and miss him dreadfully and I wish that none of this had happened."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mrs Challen walked free from court, with her sons James and David

'Trapped and manipulated'

The lesser charge was accepted by prosecutors on the grounds of diminished responsibility after a psychiatric report concluded Mrs Challen was suffering from an "adjustment disorder".

Mr Justice Edis said the killing came after "years of controlling, isolating and humiliating conduct" with the added provocation of her husband's "serial multiple infidelity".

"You felt trapped and manipulated because you were trapped and manipulated," he told Mrs Challen.

Image copyright PA
Image caption She thanked her family who supported her through a "terrible nine years"

Her son David said the family were "overjoyed", adding it had "brought an end to the suffering we have endured together for the past nine years".

Mrs Challen, from Claygate, who never denied killing her husband, said she had suffered decades of emotional abuse from her former car dealer husband.

Her conviction for his murder was overturned by the Court of Appeal following a campaign led by her sons, who walked into court with her this morning.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Sally and Richard Challen had two sons and had been married for 31 years

Son James, in a statement read to court, said the brothers had "lost a father" and did not "seek to justify our mother's actions," but added she "does not deserve to be punished further".

During February's two-day appeal hearing, the court heard evidence relating to Mrs Challen's state of mind at the time of the killing and the issue of "coercive control".

Coercive control describes a pattern of behaviour by an abuser to harm, punish or frighten their victim and became a criminal offence in England and Wales in December 2015.

Following the appeal, a consultant psychiatrist assessed Mrs Challen and concluded that, at the time of the killing, she was suffering from "an abnormality of the mind that substantially impaired her mental responsibility for her acts," the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Coupled with medical reports from a prison psychiatrist, this was a "significant change from expert evidence previously available and has led us to conclude there is no longer sufficient evidence to proceed on a charge of murder," the CPS said.

Image copyright David Challen
Image caption Sally Challen had been released on bail in April into the care of her sons James, left, and David

The couple, who separated in 2009, were attempting to reconcile in August 2010 when Mrs Challen attacked her husband as he ate lunch at the kitchen table in their former marital home in Claygate, her original trial heard.

After attacking him, she drove 70 miles to Beachy Head in East Sussex, where she admitted to chaplains trying to coax her away from the cliff edge that she had killed her husband of 31 years.

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