'Jealousy' led Sally Challen to kill

Richard Challen
Image caption The body of Richard Challen was found at his house in Claygate on 15 August last year

Sally Challen had never denied bludgeoning her husband to death with a hammer as he ate his lunch.

She told a suicide team who had found her the following day at Beachy Head: "If I can't have him, no-one can."

She had been living apart from Richard, her husband of 31 years, but she kept a diary of his movements as she became increasingly suspicious he was seeing other women.

On one occasion, she even counted his Viagra tablets to see when they appeared to have been used.

On Thursday, Challen was found guilty of her husband's murder and jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years.

During her trial the 57-year-old mother-of-two, whose real name is Georgina, revealed how she first suspected her husband of cheating in 2004 when he began salsa dancing classes.

Her fears were proven when she followed him to a brothel in Surbiton, south London.

She said: "I had to wait there because I knew I had to confront him when he came out and he ran off."

During the trial, businessman Mr Challen, 61, was described as a domineering character.

The couple's son, James, 27, said his mother had "very low" self-esteem, which he attributed to his father's dominant nature.

Despite their separation, the Challens, who had shared a home in Ruxley Ridge, Surrey, had been trying to rebuild their marriage.

'Jealousy and suspicion'

However, Challen had been unconvinced of her husband's commitment, describing his efforts as a "ruse" after he started seeing a woman he met through a dating agency.

On the day of Mr Challen's death last August, she had gone to the house in Ruxley Ridge with a hammer in her handbag.

Prosecutors said she checked his phone to find out her husband's most recent call, and was consumed by "jealousy and suspicion" when she dialled the number and a woman answered.

Challen, who lived in Ashton Place, Claygate, said she made her husband lunch and, as he sat eating at the kitchen table, crept up on him and hit him with the hammer.

In her video evidence, she said after the killing she bought cigarettes, drank some wine and composed a suicide note but was reluctant to kill herself until the following day after she had dropped her son, David, 24, off at work.

She told police: "My plan was to go and jump off the Marks and Spencer car park in Kingston. I wanted to be with Richard and I don't know why I did what I did.

'I love you'

"I drove to Kingston but the car park was closed and I didn't know what time it opened... so I decided to drive to Beachy Head."

When she arrived, she called her cousin to admit the killing and repeated the admission to a suicide team and chaplain who were called to help her.

The court heard she told them: "I killed him with a hammer. I hit him lots of times... If I can't have him, no-one can."

Police later found the 61-year-old's body on the kitchen floor covered in blankets. A hand-written note placed upon it read: "I love you, Sally."

A post-mortem examination found Mr Challen died of "severe blunt force trauma to the head".

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