Mother accused of hammer attack murder freed on bail ahead of retrial

A woman who killed her husband in a hammer attack after suffering years of his controlling behaviour has been freed from prison on bail ahead of her retrial for murder.

Georgina Challen, known as Sally, said she killed 61-year-old Richard Challen in August 2010 after decades of being coerced and humiliated by him.

She was jailed for life for the murder of the former car dealer following a trial at Guildford Crown Court in 2011.

But after years of campaigning by her sons David and James Challen, her conviction was quashed and a new trial ordered at the Court of Appeal.

On Friday, Challen appeared at the Old Bailey by video-link to enter a not guilty plea to murder but a plea of guilty to manslaughter.

She was granted bail ahead of her retrial in July.

On Friday evening, David Challen revealed that his mother had been released from HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey, after receiving a tweet of support from Spice Girl Mel B.

The singer tweeted “I’m soooo happy for your family” in response to the news Challen had been granted bail.

Mr Challen replied: “Thanks Mel! We just picked her up! She’s in the car with me right now!!!”

Speaking outside court earlier, David Challen said: “Today we are overjoyed that bail has been granted for our mother and she will be now released back to us. Our mother now rejoins our family.”

Asked what it will be like when she walks out of prison on Saturday, he said: “It’s a massive moment.”

He added: “It’s a happy day for us, we get to see her again.”

David Challen speaks to reporters outside the Old Bailey
David Challen speaks to reporters outside the Old Bailey (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Challen added that the family are looking forward to “being together again after so long”.

The defendant’s brother, Chris Jenney, said: “The family are all supporting Sally. We have done from day one. Our strength’s built and will build even further. This is a fantastic day for us.”

David Challen, the son of Georgina 'Sally' Challen
David Challen, the son of Georgina ‘Sally’ Challen (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Justice Edis granted Challen conditional bail following an application by defence lawyer Clare Wade QC.

He said the defendant should be released from custody on Saturday from 12 noon.

But it emerged on Friday evening that Challen had been released ahead of time.

Mr Challen also took the time to thank prison staff, posting on Twitter that “everyone at HMP Bronzefield have been so lovely to us”.

Challen’s retrial is due to take place at the Old Bailey to allow space for all the press interested in the case.

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