Landmark ruling as woman who killed husband with a hammer granted retrial

sally challen

Sarah Challen will face a new murder trial (Credit: Family Handout)

Sarah Challen, the woman who killed her husband with a hammer at their home in Surrey in 2010, will face a new murder trial a panel of judges has ruled.

The 65-year old has never denied killing husband, Richard Challen, 61, but denied murder claiming diminished responsibility.

She was convicted of murdering her car-dealer husband by striking him repeatedly over the head with a hammer. She hit him over twenty times before wrapping his body in a curtain.

Over the two-day hearing, the court heard from a psychiatrist that, at the time of the killing, Challen was suffering from two mental disorders.

Her lawyers argue that she would have faced the lesser charge of manslaughter had the coercive or controlling behaviour offence, as part of the Serious Crime Act 2015, been in place at the time of the trial in June 2011.

Lady Justice Hallett 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 not available at the time of the trial and the court quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.”

Coercive control is a term of domestic abuse that aims to control a victim’s behaviour and restrict their liberty and freedom.

Justice for Women, who campaign on behalf of female victims of domestic abuse, worked with Challen for a retrial.

Her son, David, 31, has also been outspoken in his support for his mother and said:

“…a lot of good can come from this for my mother and for anyone else suffering from mental domestic abuse in reference to coercive control”

The court said the new murder charge must be put to Challen within the next two months.

She has already served eight years of her 22 year sentence.

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