A WIFE who bludgeoned her controlling husband to death with a hammer has revealed how she left a note saying “I love you” on his body.
Sally Challen, 65, suffered years of mental torture at the hands of car dealer Richard, 61, before snapping and killing him at their £1million Surrey home.
She was jailed for murder in 2011 – before her sentence was sensationally quashed.
A change in the law in 2015, when coercive control became an offence, led to her charge being reduced to manslaughter.
She was freed in June.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain today Mrs Challen said she met her future husband when she was just 15 and described him as “very charismatic” and a “salesman who could sell himself very well” and “charm birds out of trees”.
But he became increasingly controlling – she used to hand him her salary – and abusive in their relationship.
Challen forced her to have an abortion, raped her and for years convinced her she was going mad to conceal affairs and trips to the local brothel.
They split after 31 years of marriage but made an attempt at reconciliation in 2010.
However, Mrs Challen suspected her husband of cheating on her again — and hit him with a hammer as he ate a cooked breakfast in the middle of the afternoon.
Speaking today she said: “I went upstairs and he was on the computer and he immediately minimised the screen.
“I gave him his food and I asked him the question ‘am I going to see you tomorrow?’
“He just went ‘don’t question me Sally, don’t question me.’
“And I took the hammer from my bag and I hit him. I’ve no recollection of putting the hammer in the bag but I accept that I must have done
“They say I hit him 18 times…but I can’t believe I was capable of doing that
“I remember that I covered his body with a blanket because I didn’t want David [their son] to perhaps come round the house and see. I wasn’t going to hide it but I didn’t want him being upset and having that memory.
“I put a note on his body saying ‘I love you’”.
She then drove to notorious suicide spot Beachy Head and threatened to throw herself off.
She said: “The police negotiator speaking to me [stopped me]. The words that he said ‘what about your sons, leaving them?”
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Her murder conviction was quashed last year after the Court of Appeal accepted she was the victim of domestic abuse and mental disorders.
Her sons James, 36, and David, 32, have stood by her after learning the extent of their father’s bullying.
Mrs Challen, who now campaigns for other abused women, said: “It’s as though it’s happened to someone else and not me, but I want to tell my story to make people aware of what coercive control is and what can happen in an extreme case.”
The 65-year-old, who became a gran a few days ago, added: “My sons have been rocks…they were very, very supportive. They have lived this sentence with me.”
CATALOGUE OF ABUSE Long-suffering Sally’s life of control
SALLY was born in Walton-on-Thames in 1954, after her parents returned to England.
When she was five her father died of a heart attack and her mother did not consider it appropriate for her daughter to pursue a career.
She told her to learn to be a secretary find a man and devote herself to him.
She met Richard and became “besotted” with him when she was 15 and he was 22.
But her marriage descended into a hideous cycle of control and humiliation culminating in 2009, when she discovered her Richard had been frequenting brothels.
He perpetually lied to her in a textbook case of “gaslighting” causing her to question her own sanity.
She summoned the courage to leave her husband and even started divorce proceedings, but six months later decided she couldn’t go through with it and went back to him.
Eventually she snapped in August 2010 after her husband demanded bacon and egg for his breakfast and sent her out in the pouring rain to fetch him some.
When she got back to the house she grew suspicious that he’d sent her out so he could ring one of his many girlfriends and a swift check of phone records confirmed her fears.
Sally maintains she does not recall her actions, but this is when she picked up the hammer and whacked him over the head.
The following day she drove over 70 miles to Beachy Head planning to take her life but stopped because she couldn’t face leaving her sons behind.
When police arrived at the marital home they found the body of Mr Challen, with a hand-written note on top reading: “I love you, Sally.”
In her police interview, Mrs Challen said her husband was controlling but she still loved him, the court heard.
Sally Challen, 65, bludgeoned her husband Richard Challen, 61, to death in 2010[/caption]
Sally was left ‘utterly betrayed’ by her husband’s use of prostitutes[/caption]
At trial, Sally was said to have murdered Richard because she believed he was having an affair[/caption]
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