Sally Challen with her husband Richard. Sally Challen, who struck her husband to death with a hammer in August 2010, received the ok to challenge the murder conviction
A mother who beat her husband to death with a hammer after years of abuse has been convicted of murder.
Sally Challen's victory has been described as a "turning point for victims of domestic violence".
The applause broke out from family, friends and supporters in the Court's 4 public tribunal at London's royal courts, while Mrs Challen's sentence was canceled.
It is the first time that we are asked to be "coercively controlled" to lift a conviction for murder.
Appearing via videolink from HMP Bronzefield in Surrey, Ms. Challen, 65, who served eight years in prison, cried and hugged a prison officer.
But the hopes that she would be released immediately were broken when it was established that the former Police Federation official will face a new murder trial.
A new jury will hear "new evidence" that emerged on Ms. Challen's mental state at the time of the killing in 2010.
The case was cited as a turning point in the search for justice for victims of domestic abuse and was supported by charitable organizations, including Justice For Women.
It focuses on the years of "coercive and controlling behavior" that Mrs. Challen would suffer at the hands of Richard Challen, her 31-year-old husband.
The couple met when she was 15 and he was 22, but it was said that their relationship had been ruined by Mr. Challen's numerous business, intimidation and gaslighting – a term used to describe making a partner feel like they were going crazy.
This specific type of abuse rose to public awareness in 2016 when it appeared in a plot on The Archers, which may have partly inspired Mrs. Challen to recognize herself as a victim of behavior, the court has heard before.
Sally Challen, 61, appears via video link to appeal against her 18-year sentence for killing her husband in 2010 at the Court of Appeal today
Richard Challen with the couple's son, David, as a child in the middle, and his brother James
The coercive and control behavior became a criminal offense in 2015 – four years after being convicted of murder.
His lawyers claimed that at the time of the trial, his impact had been widely known, the jury could have condemned Ms. Challen of the minor charge of manslaughter.
They argued that the damage caused by the coercive control, in the years when the husband controlled his finances, visited prostitutes and had them do all the housework, was not sufficiently appreciated by psychiatrists at the time of the trial.
Lady Justice Hallett, who sits with Justice Justice Sweeney and Justice Justice Cheema-Grubb, said: "The Court of Appeals heard that, in the opinion of a forensic psychiatrist counselor, the appellant suffered from two mental disorders at the time of murder.
"This trial was not available at the time of the trial and the court annulled the sentence and ordered a new trial".
Mrs. Challen's attorney, Clare Wade QC, said her client's personality disorder symptoms were suppressed by the coercive control she suffered at the hands of her husband.
"It had a previous pre-existing condition, which meant it was susceptible to coercive control and that these symptoms did not emerge adequately until the crisis occurred, with which the process was affected."
Challen, right, 65, has been jailed for 22 years for killing her husband Richard, left at 61, with a hammer in August 2010, but his sons David, 31 and James, 35, they claim to have been the victim of decades of abuse including rape and the psychological torment of their father
Miss Wade said that Mrs. Challen's trial in 2011 focused on infidelity rather than other relevant evidence, adding, "What they did was that they only provided evidence that dated back to 2004.
"The case was condensed on something that in fact if all his instructions and accounts had been taken into account, it was not the case."
Lady Justice Hallett asked Miss Wade: "To put it clearly, a working title would be a" battered psychological women's syndrome "?" Miss Wade said, "Yes, absolutely.
The sentence followed the tests of the psychiatric medical advisor Dr. Gwen Adshead, who interviewed Mrs. Challen five years after the attack.
She said that, in her opinion, Ms. Challen suffered from a borderline personality disorder at the time of the murder, exacerbated by the abuse she was undergoing.
Sally Challen with her husband Richard on their wedding day. The couple's children said their mother was subject to years of controlling behavior
Challen, pictured with one of his children as a child, should have obtained more legal protection in his original trial, according to the family
Speaking after the sentence of the appeal judges, Mrs. David, 31, of Mrs. Challen, who vigorously promoted a campaign for her mother, said: "This is a watershed moment for domestic violence in recognizing coercive control.
"We do not want you to spend more time in jail, but today it's not a killer.
"This is the most extraordinary thing that has been recognized.
"We want her to be free to live a good life and live an independent life she has not lived since she was 15 years old."
Sally Challen, in the photo, has annulled her conviction for murder after a historic appeal that saw her claiming she had been forced to kill her husband because of decades of psychological abuse
Her lawyer Harriet Wistrich, who specializes in working with abused women, said she had spoken to Mrs. Challen after the verdict.
"She was very tearful but she is well supported where she is – it's not all sunk up yet," he said.
He added that his legal team will apply for bail and will try to avoid a new trial by offering a guilty plea for the charge of manslaughter.
The Court of Appeals previously heard an expert in coercive and control behavior.
Professor Evan Stark said it could produce "hostage-like trapping conditions … similar to those produced in prisoners of war".
He added: "It reaches compliance essentially by making the victims frightened and … depriving them of rights, resources and freedom without which they can not effectively defend themselves, escape, refuse requests or resist".
Claire Mawer, of Justice For Women, said: "I hope the interest in this case provides a platform for a greater understanding of the appalling struggle faced by so many women who go through the criminal justice system."
As the women's rights advocate who fought to keep the black rapist John Worboys in jail could secure a legal winner
The historic appeal of Sally Challen is led by a lawyer who is no stranger to the major legal battles.
Harriet Wistrich is arguing that the 65-year-old should have been convicted of manslaughter for the killing of her husband after decades of physical and emotional abuse.
The 58-year-old has consistently supported women's rights and last year represented the victims of black taxi rapist John Worboys in a successful attempt to prevent his release by the Civil Liberties Commission after only eight years in prison .
The lawyer for women's rights Harriet Wistrich, pictured, who represents Challen to the Court of Appeal, said that the case was all but certain, but that the new law is "like new" test"
He spent 25 years as a lawyer and recently worked for Birnberg Peirce & Partners, working on cases of abuse.
Today he will tell the Court judges of Appeal that Challen would have the legal defense of compulsory control if tried today after being converted into law in 2015, four years after his trial.
The legislation covers abuses where someone with a personal connection with a victim threatens, isolates, intimidates and subjects them to a behavior that makes them dependent, that the sons of Challen declare guilty of their father for 40 years.
They say that the mother broke after living in a "pressure cooker" after being raped and psychologically abused for so long.
Challen wrote to Wistrich for help in 2012 and later discovered that his defense did not include the decades of abuse suffered by Challen.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Ms. Wistrich said that the appeal is "important in terms of violence against women".
He said: "In a sense it's like a new trial." The fact that a law has been approved illustrates progress in our understanding of the dynamics of a violent relationship. "
Miss Wistrich added: "The number of people killed in terrorist attacks, like Manchester, is much lower than the number of women killed each year due to internal terrorism." There should be a big protest. "
He founded Justice for Women with partner Julie Bindel in 1991 and since then the organization has helped to cancel the sentences of over a dozen women convicted of murder of abusive partners.
Wistrich added that the Challen case was "a very tough discussion", but that the huge amount of work done by the legal team and a "swing of public humor" meant that the judges had to seriously consider it.
"He pushed her to the limit": the devoted sons, 31 and 35, who supported their mother's appeal against a murder conviction for killing their father reveal the horrible abuse he suffered at his hands
By Barbara Davies for the Daily Mail
Making sense of their childhood years was the life's work for Sally Challen's children. For when they never believed that his father Richard deserved to die, they understand why their mother was forced to kill him.
The two-year-old mother, 65, saw her conviction for killing her 31-year-old husband by hitting him 20 times with a hammer crushed to the royal courts of justice today.
Now he faces a new trial after a group of judges of the Court of Appeal declared that he suffered from two mental disorders at the time of the attack of 2010. He already served eight years in a Surrey prison.
Behind this time today's watershed is a story of extraordinary filial love and heroic struggle for justice by the two young, flat-headed children who emerged from the unfortunate marriage of the Challen.
Speaking off-screen, Mrs. Challen's son, David, 31, who supported his freedom for years along with his brother James, 35, said the result gave his mother a blow to freedom that He has never had since he was 15 years old, in the age he met his future husband
There is no doubt that 31-year-old David and his brother James, 35, were his most powerful allies in gaining public opinion and gathering support for his case.
Even more remarkable is the fact that they supported their mother's support by respecting the memory of her father, who was 61 when he died.
Or as David put him in an exclusive interview with the mail last October: "We do not justify the killing of our father.We are trying to stop the lie that our mother is a killer. "
Undiagnosed mental disorders that have made his sentence insecure
Sally Challen's quest for justice received a lifeline in March of last year, when she was granted permission to appeal for her conviction.
Lawyers argued that changes in the law on "coercive and controlling behavior" – which became a crime in 2015 – could have induced a jury to reach a different conclusion if the concept had been fully explored during the trial.
However, coercive and control behavior is not a defense for murder.
Yesterday, Lady Justice Hallett, addressing the Court of Appeals, said: "This case has received a great deal of attention from the public.
"There may be those out there who think this appeal is about enforcement, but it's not, first, it's about diagnosing disorders that were not diagnosed at the time of the trial."
Mrs. Challen can however claim defenses of "provocation" and "reduced responsibility". His legal team had to prove that at the time of the murder he had a previously undiagnosed mental disorder. One that was not identified during the original process could represent "a new test" in defense of reduced responsibility.
His lawyer Clare Wade QC appealed to evidence provided by psychiatric counselor Dr. Gwen Adshead, who stated that, in his opinion, Ms. Challen suffered from a borderline personality disorder and had symptoms of a disturbing mood in the previous years the murder. The dott. Adshead told the court: "Where there is domestic violence, this can precipitate a disturbing mood".
The emergence of two mental disorders prompted the three judges of the Court of Appeal to exclude the original conviction.
In her 2011 trial, Ms. Challen claimed responsibility for a reduction of responsibilities, but Ms. Wade said that "it was not presented as fully as possible".
But it took years of dedication from a young man who juggles his work with a film distribution company to campaign against domestic violence with the Justice For Women group and address feminist conferences in the UK.
Even after the "deep shock" in seeing their mother pleaded guilty at the Guildford Crown Court in 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment, they refused to give up their search.
Shortly after the 2011 condemnation, the family contacted Justice For Women, a feminist law reform group that supports women who have killed their partners in response to domestic violence.
The Sally Challen case, however, is the first of its kind because, although it claims to have been raped, it has not been the victim of prolonged and persistent physical violence. The abuse that supported its supporters was largely psychological, financial and emotional. They say that Richard's behavior has pushed to the limit.
"We have lived a whole life with this and eight years trying to find the words," David said this week.
The words to which it refers are "coercive control", a legal term that eventually allowed the brothers to articulate what they say their mother had suffered at the hands of their father, which was not the type of physical violence usually associated with abuse domestic cases but something much more psychological.
The Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new crime of controlling and coercive behavior in an intimate or family relationship, recognizing that a pattern of isolation, humiliation and domination could rob women of their lives as much as physical violence, and was a form of domestic abuse.
It is on this legal basis that Ms. Challen was authorized to appeal against her conviction for murder in 2011, when "coercive control" was not recognized by law.
Since the time when, in August 2010, his family life was torn apart, David felt only compassion for his mother.
He was 22 when he killed his father – he hit Richard Challen in the head with a hammer more than 20 times while eating the bacon and eggs that he had let out in the rain to buy that morning.
He wrapped his body in a curtain and left a message on it saying "I love you" before washing the dishes and leaving the £ 1 million marital home in Claygate, Surrey.
The next day, Mrs. Challen gave David a ride to work in a local restaurant and when he got out of the car, he leaned over to the passenger side and said, "You know I love you, David, do not you?"
The meaning of those words became clear only a few hours later, when the police arrived at the restaurant to tell him that his father had died and that his mother had been found in the famous suicide spot in East Sussex, Beachy Head.
It took a chaplain two hours to talk to her to jump.
For the outside world it was a shocking case, also because the Challens seemed to be the perfect bourgeois couple. Richard Challen owned a car dealership, while his elegant blonde wife Sally worked as an office manager for the Federation of Police.
The way in which the Sally Challen case has reached a point of reference
August 2010: Sally Challen gathers her husband Richard, 61, to death with a hammer. The next day he leads to Beachy Head and threatens to kill himself only to be discussed by a chaplain.
June 2011: Challen is convicted of murder and has been jailed for 22 years a month later.
November 2011: The decision of Challen is reduced to 18 years on appeal.
December 2015: The coercive control is established by the law of the United Kingdom, making it a crime to make someone feel controlled, dependent, isolated or frightened. It can also be used as a legal defense in cases of domestic abuse.
March 2018: Challen's lawyers have the right to appeal to his conviction after his sons David and James conducted a campaign with Justice for Women, which was "driven to its actions" by coercive control.
FFebruary 2019: Challen wins her case at the Court of Appeal and a new trial is ordered.
The judges established that he had suffered from two mental disorders at the time of the murder that made the belief "unsafe".
Mrs. Challen's parents were born in India and have lived a typical lifestyle of expatriates with servants. She was born in Walton-on-Thames in 1954, after her parents returned to England.
When he was five years old his father died of a heart attack and his mother did not consider it appropriate for her daughter to pursue a career. She expected Sally to learn her secretarial skills, marry and devote herself to her husband.
She was a 15-year-old schoolgirl when she met 22-year-old Richard Challen and was immediately assaulted by a man described by those who knew him as charming and charismatic. In the early years of their relationship, she used to call Richard's apartment after school to clean and cook – it was a model of subservient behavior that continued once married.
As David says: "Mom never had the chance to experience any other relationship or to form her own adult identity." My father, and the way he acted, was all he knew. "
Mrs. Challen's children claimed that her father had been subjecting her to decades of abuse, including rape.
Mrs. Challen accused her husband of cheating and even claimed to have taken him to a brothel, despite her claims that she was "crazy".
Even though she left him several times, just before he died he asked her to bring her back.
It is said that it was agreed on the condition that it signed a bizarre post-nuptial agreement with clauses that stripped her of financial resources, prohibited her from smoking and prevented her from "interrupting" him.
His sons say it was such a control behavior that drove his mother to kill him. At her original five-day trial at Guildford Crown Court, Ms. Challen's defense team relied on a reduced liability defense, hoping she would be found guilty of the minor charge of manslaughter.
The presumed behavior of her husband was considered irrelevant and Mrs. Challen's lawyers thought it would be bad for them to "talk badly about the dead".
What is coercive control and when did it become a new law?
In 2015 it became a crime under UK law to subject someone to "coercive control".
The crime is defined as when someone with a personal connection makes you feel controlled, dependent, isolated or frightened and causes a "serious effect".
Examples of such behavior include isolation of a person from friends and relatives, monitoring of a person's movements, control of their money, continuous verbal abuse, threats of violence and harmful properties.
A serious effect is defined as having substantially influenced a person's daily life, changing the way they live or making them feel threatened by violence.
The offense came into force in December 2015. Even if a person who has committed a coercive control before then can not be accused of this, it can be used to show bad character and support a general case of abuse.
David says it was "heartbreaking" & # 39; look at the process unfolding in the public gallery and it was in 'deep shock'. when his mother was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. "The verdict was wrong, it deserves justice," he said when he spoke with Mail last year.
"People must understand that he killed my father, not because he is a bad person, but because he brought it to the limit". Speaking of the complex emotions behind his mother's case, David said of his father "in a strange way, we still love him", but added that "nothing will ever be resolved in society if we do not observe the root cause.
At this moment this conviction serves absolutely no one in society and this is one of the most frustrating things. "
Mrs. Challen's testimony illustrates the same complexities and, incredibly, the same love. Speaking after his arrest in 2010, he told the police: "I felt without Richard that I had no value, I could not go on, I could not do it.
"I loved him and he was part of my life, part of me. My whole identity was built as part of a couple. I could not exist separately. I keep thinking of Richard all the time, every night. "
When sentenced to life imprisonment, Judge Christopher Critchlow told her: "You are a person who killed the one man you loved and you must live with what you did."
Today's hopeful glimpse of Mrs. Challen, however, came largely thanks to the love of the two children who stood by her while making legal history.