A sixty three year old woman identified as Sally Challen is currently serving jail time in Send women’s prison in Surrey after being jailed in 2011 for beating her husband to death with a hammer, however, her son demands that she be released, stating that she killed his father, Richard Challen but she is not a murderer
According to her sons, David and James, their mother suffered for psychological abuse decades under their father who raped his wife and refused to allow her to have any friends
It was gathered that in August 2010, she used a hammer and beat up her husband 20 times on the head as he sat eating his breakfast in the couple’s £1 million house in Claygate, Surrey.
Afterwards, she wrapped his body in a curtain, left a note saying ‘I love you, Sally’, and the next day drove to notorious suicide spot Beachy Head. It took a chaplain two hours to talk her out of jumping
Speaking at campaigns against domestic violence and addressing feminists in conferences around the UK, David said;
‘While we do not justify our father’s killing, we are seeking to stop the lie that our mother is a murderer. She is not, the verdict was the wrong one. She deserves justice. People need to understand that she killed my father not because she is a bad person, but because he drove her to the edge,’
Though they appeared to be a happy and perfect couple from the outside, David became aware, from a young age, however, that things were not quite right in his parents’ marriage and not everyone’s Dad spoke to their Mum the way his did.
‘I could sense that there was something ‘morally wrong’ with my father. He was always putting my mother down, and talking to her like she was nothing,’
If someone commented that she looked like she lost weight, he would say: ‘You haven’t seen her without her clothes on.’ As a young child I would hear him call Mum ‘thunder thighs’, and I could see it upset her. It made me feel disgusted by his behaviour.
‘She was constantly criticised for everything, from her cooking to the way she raised us. If we didn’t show good manners at the dinner table he’d say to my mother: ‘Why don’t you teach these children how to hold a knife and fork properly?’
The atmosphere in the house changed whenever he walked in with his criticisms of their mother.
‘I remember one time he threw all the food in the bin before a dinner party because he didn’t fancy being sociable that night, and forced Mum to cancel,’ .
One Christmas, Richard bought a red Ferrari and paid for a photo shoot with two topless models while he perched on the bonnet.
‘He decided to put the photograph in a frame on the mantelpiece in the living room, and sent the picture out to friends and family members as Christmas cards,’ says David. ‘I can only imagine how humiliating this was for Mum.’
She, in turn, became fixated with Richard’s ‘other women’ and constantly hacked into his phone to read his messages.
‘When I was about 17 I recall Mum being totally convinced he was doing something behind her back,’ says, David, ‘and I remember that she had loads of phone records to prove she wasn’t losing it. Yet he still denied everything, and accused her of going crazy.’
According to David and others who knew the family, Sally had been with Richard since she was 15 and was unable to compare her relationship with any other. This was her ‘normal’ and she adored her husband.
He explained that his mother wasn’t allowed friends and was expected to devote herself to her husband. She wasn’t allowed to speak to other people when they went out socially. She wasn’t allowed to see anyone on her own. Once, when Richard ‘caught’ Sally giving a mutual friend a goodbye hug, he took her upstairs and raped her.
When Sally was five her father died of a heart attack and her mother did not consider it appropriate for her daughter to pursue a career. Sally was expected to learn secretarial skills, marry and devote herself to her husband