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Abused wife not a murderer

(Posted on 01/03/19)

In a landmark decision, Sally Challen has had her 2011 murder conviction overturned. She will now face a retrial for killing her husband with a hammer after he subjected her to forty years of control, intimidation and humiliation.

Her conviction was ruled unsafe in the light of new psychiatric evidence not available at the time of her trial. She has been supported by her sons David and James and the campaign group Justice for Women.

“It’s an amazing moment,” David Challen said outside the Royal Courts of Justice. “The courts have acknowledged this case needs to be looked at again, as we have always said as a family. The abuse our mother suffered, we felt, was never recognised properly and her mental conditions were not taken into account.

“As sons, we get another shot for our story to be heard, the events that led to our father’s death to be heard, and for our mother to have another shot at freedom – a freedom she has never had since the age of 15.”

“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,” acknowledged Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb. “This evidence was not available at the time of the trial and the court quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.”

“It has not sunk in yet. She was obviously delighted that the appeal was won, but daunted by the prospect of what’s to come,” Challen’s lawyer Harriet Wistrich told journalists. “Whatever may be the ultimate outcome, we have managed to raise awareness and a much deeper understanding of the concept of coercive control, which is such a recent one.”