Protesters gather to support appeal for woman who murdered abusive husband

Sammy Challen protesters

Protesters gathered in support of Sally Challen today. Image: PA

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Demonstrators gathered at the Royal Courts of Justice in support of a landmark murder conviction appeal they hope will be a historic victory for victims of domestic abuse.

Led by campaign group Justice for Women, supporters waved banners and placards reading “Free Sally”, with many campaigners unable to fit into the packed public galleries.

Sally Challen's lawyers are calling for her 2011 murder conviction, for bludgeoning husband Richard to death, to be downgraded to manslaughter on the grounds that Richard’s psychological “coercive control” was as provocative as physical violence.

 

 

The couple’s son David said: “I've exhausted myself and my energy for what I can do as a son for my parents to get across the true understanding of what has happened.

"This affects not just our mother but thousands of victims who don't have a voice, both men and women.

"Me and my brother have spoken out, not just for our parents but for other victims too.

"We have had a lifetime of living with this and eight years trying to find the words."

 

Coercive control designed to 'subjugate and dominate'

David Challen with supporters today. Image: PA

Sally’s lawyers told the court that “fresh evidence” would demonstrate that there was an insufficient understanding of coercive control during Sally’s original conviction.

Expert witness Professor Evan Stark said coercive control was one of the most common forms of domestic abuse and was “designed to subjugate and dominate”.

He added: "It achieves compliance essentially by making victims afraid and by depriving them of rights, resources and liberties, without which they can not effectively defend themselves, escape, refuse demands or resist."

At her 2011 trial at Guildford Crown Court, Challen, 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.

Sally’s lawyers argue that had the defence of coercive control, which only passed into law in 2015, been available to Sally, she would not have been found guilty of murder.

The appeal continues and is expected to last for two days.