Sally Challen walks free after prosecutors accept lesser plea of manslaughter for killing abusive husband in coercive control case

Monday 10 June 2019

Clare Wade QC and Lucie Wibberley of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team represented Sally Challen, instructed by Harriet Wistrich of Birnberg Peirce & Partners. 

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Sally Challen walked free on Friday 7 June 2019 after prosecutors accepted a lesser plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, for killing her abusive husband after decades of psychological abuse. 

Sally Challen was convicted of murder in 2011 for killing her husband in August 2010. In February this year, the Court of Appeal quashed her murder conviction and ordered a retrial in light of new evidence presented by her defence team about her mental state at the time of the killing. The appeal court heard from the psychiatrists who had given evidence in the original trial, a further psychiatrist and Evan Stark, Forensic Social Worker and author of "Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life." The court was told Sally Challen had two mental disorders at the time of the killing, and that her condition was likely to have been made worse by coercive control exercised by her husband, Richard Challen.  

On Friday 7 June, a judge at the Old Bailey ruled that Sally Challen will not face a retrial and will not serve any further time in prison, having already spent nearly a decade in jail. The manslaughter plea was accepted following a further psychiatric assessment which concluded that Sally was suffering from an "adjustment disorder" at the time of her husband's death.  

Sally Challen was supported by the feminist campaigning group, Justice for Women.

This case has been reported widely including by BBCGuardian and ITV News.

The full press conference following Sally’s release, which explores some of the wider issues of the case and the issue of coercive control, can be viewed here.

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