Surrey

Sally Challen released after denying murdering husband

Sally Challen Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Sally Challen denies murdering her husband Richard in 2010

A woman whose sons campaigned against her conviction for murdering her husband has been released from prison ahead of a fresh trial.

Sally Challen, 65, was found guilty of murdering 61-year-old Richard in a hammer attack in August 2010 and jailed for life in 2011.

The conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in February.

Appearing at the Old Bailey via video-link earlier, Mrs Challen, of Claygate in Surrey, denied murder.

Mrs Challen wept in court as Mr Justice Edis granted bail and several hours later was released from HMP Bronzefield, Surrey.

The judge set a further hearing for 7 June and a trial date for 1 July "if necessary".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sally Challen's son David (left) said earlier that his mother leaving prison would be a "massive moment"

The appeal followed a campaign by her sons David, 31, and James, 35.

Speaking outside court earlier, David said the family was looking forward to "being together again after so long".

He said: "We are overjoyed that bail has been granted for our mother and she will be now released back to us. Our mother now rejoins our family."

Mrs Challen's brother Chris Jenney added: "The family are all supporting Sally. We have done from day one. Our strength's built and will build even further."

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Sally and Richard Challen had two sons and had been married for 31 years

During the two-day appeal hearing in February, the court heard evidence relating to Mrs Challen's state of mind at the time of the killing and the issue of "coercive control".

Coercive control describes a pattern of behaviour by an abuser to harm, punish or frighten their victim and became a criminal offence in England and Wales in December 2015.

The murder conviction was overturned by three judges who said the evidence of a psychiatrist, that Mrs Challen was suffering from two mental disorders at the time of the killing, was not available at the time of her trial and undermined the safety of her conviction.

Lawyers for Mrs Challen, who has never denied killing her husband, asked for the murder conviction to be substituted to manslaughter but the panel of judges refused and ordered a retrial.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the conviction was quashed, David said: "The abuse our mother suffered, we felt, was never recognised properly and her mental conditions were not taken into account."

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