Sally Challen to face fresh trial after murder conviction quashed

A woman who killed her husband in a hammer attack will face a fresh trial after her murder conviction was overturned in a landmark decision.

Georgina Challen, known as Sally, says she killed 61-year-old Richard Challen in August 2010 after 40 years of being controlled and humiliated by him.

She was jailed for life for his murder following a trial at Guildford Crown Court in 2011.

But her conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered at the Court of Appeal in London on Thursday, after a panel of three judges ruled it was unsafe in light of new evidence which was not available at the time of her first trial.

Georgina Challen murder conviction challengeDuring a two-day hearing, the court heard evidence relating to Challen's state of mind at the time of the killing and the issue of "coercive control".

Speaking outside after the ruling, her son David Challen, 31, said: "It's an amazing moment.

"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."

At her trial, Challen, 65, of Claygate, Surrey, admitted killing the former car dealer but denied murder, claiming diminished responsibility.

The prosecution case was that it was the action of a jealous woman who suspected infidelity.

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

Quashing her conviction on Thursday, three senior judges ruled fresh evidence given by a psychiatrist undermined the safety of her conviction.

The psychiatrist's evidence was that Challen was suffering from two mental disorders – a borderline personality disorder and a severe mood disorder, probably bipolar affective disorder – at the time of the killing.

Richard Challen
Richard Challen was killed by his wife in 2010 (Surrey Police/PA)

Challen, who attended the appeal over a video link from HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey, burst into tears as she heard the result and there were cheers and applause from relatives and supporters in the public gallery.

However, the panel of judges refused to substitute a manslaughter conviction and ordered Challen must face a retrial on a charge of 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."

The judges also declined to hear an application by Challen's lawyers for her to be released on bail.

Her legal team are expected to pursue the bail bid at a future crown court hearing.

The court ordered Challen will have to have the fresh murder charge put to her within two months.

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