'I still love him': Sally Challen walks free after judge says she won't face murder retrial for killing abusive husband

Sally Challen, who spent nearly a decade in jail for killing her abusive husband in a hammer attack, will not be returned to prison after a judge accepted a manslaughter plea.

The 65-year-old was sentenced to nine years and four months for the manslaughter of Richard Challen. Based on time already served, she walked free from the Old Bailey.

The mother-of-two had been jailed for life for the murder of the former car dealer following a trial at Guildford Crown Court in 2011.

Speaking following her release, Ms Challen thanked her family for their support and said: "I still love Richard and miss him dreadfully, and I wish none of this had happened."

Challen's reduced plea was accepted based on new evidence regarding her mental state at the time of the killing. She claims she suffered years of controlling and humiliating abuse before killing the 61-year-old in 2010.

Mr Justice Edis told Mrs Challen the killing came after "years of controlling, isolating and humiliating conduct" with the added provocation of her husband's "serial multiple infidelity".

He told her: "You felt trapped and manipulated because you were trapped and manipulated."

Speaking at a press conference following her release, Challen offered advice to people who believe someone they know may be living under coercive control.

She urged families and friends to "somehow speak to that person," in an attempt to help them.

Sally Challen arriving at the Old Bailey in central London. Credit: PA
  • How did Sally Challen come to walk free and what has the reaction been?

At her original trial, Challen, of Claygate, Surrey, admitted manslaughter but pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband on August 14 2010 and was due to face a fresh trial on July 1.

Earlier this year, Challen's conviction was quashed and a new trial ordered at the Court of Appeal in London in February, in light of the new evidence about her mental state.

That decision was overturned at the Old Bailey, seeing her walk free at the start of June.

After the conviction was reduced to manslaughter, Sally's son David tweeted: "As a family we are overjoyed at today's verdict and that it has brought an end to the suffering we have endured together for the past nine years.

"Our story has become the landmark case society needs to recognise the true severity of coercive control."

He previously told ITV News she had suffered a constant "drip, drip, drip" of controlling behaviour from him, with him cutting the brakes on her car and demanding control of her finances.

David Challen says his mother faced years of coercive control from their father. Credit: PA / Family Handout