Son calls for justice for mum convicted of killing 'morally corrupt' father
A woman jailed for bludgeoning her husband of nearly 40 years to death is appealing to reduce her murder conviction to manslaughter.
In 2011, Georgiana Challen - otherwise known as Sally - was found guilty of murdering her 61-year-old husband Richard Challen after hitting him 22 times with a hammer. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Last year, the 64-year-old won the right to challenge her conviction, and appealed for her case to take on new evidence which will look at nearly 40 years of psychological abuse she had allegedly suffered in the hands of her husband.
Sally has claimed her late husband controlled her finances, what she could wear and eat, and who she could be friends with.
He had also allegedly gaslighted his wife, calling her ‘mad’ after she repeatedly found evidence of infidelity. It’s also alleged he had raped her.
At the time of Sally's trial, coercive and controlling behaviour wasn’t a criminal offence. Prosecutors had painted her as a wife consumed by jealousy and rage at her husband’s repeated infidelity.
However, in 2015, coercive and controlling behaviour was recognised by law as a form of domestic abuse - a milestone for victims of abuse seeking justice.
David Challen has come out in defence of his mother, and supported her claims on Good Morning Britain.
“It’s very hard to describe what it’s like living in a coercive and controlled family. You can’t put a finger on what’s happening… it’s a bad atmosphere and you reference your parents’ relationships for what seems normal,” he told Good Morning Britain.
“We could still tell it was toxic.”
“It’s a gut feeling. It’s a strange thing for an eight-year-old to have about your father, that he’s morally corrupt.”
He said there was 35-40 years of cumulative psychological abuse on his mother and it was difficult to prove she was a victim of domestic abuse. He believes the legal system fails domestic violence victims in this respect.
“As a society, we’ve let her down. We let a lot of victims of domestic violence down already. Coercive control - we’re not doing enough. The severity is not dealt with by the courts,” he said on the programme.
“I felt helpless for the last eight years living with this because I haven’t had the language, my brother hasn’t had the language.”
David told Good Morning Britain his mother had escaped from the control of Richard one time, but eventually returned to him because she had grown so emotionally and mentally dependent on him after so many years together.
“She was 15 when she met our father, she had no independence as a woman. She couldn’t know a reality without him because he constructed that solely around her,” he said.
“He bred her to be like that. To think nothing but him and think about him. To exist in a world with him or without him was inhospitable in any kind of way and she cracked.
“Our mother deserves the right to her freedom. She was 15 years old. She’s never had that right. It was stolen from her.”
However, David said and his brother still love their father, despite his actions which supposedly drove her to commit murder.
“We don’t hate our father, we still love him… but he chose to live the life that he did.”