Saturday 21 September 2019

Family 'overjoyed' as woman who killed her husband in hammer attack freed ahead of fresh trial in landmark case

Undated handout file photo issued by Surrey Police of Georgina Challen, 63, who killed her husband Richard Challen, 61, with a hammer in August 2010. Photo: Surrey Police/PA Wire
Undated handout file photo issued by Surrey Police of Georgina Challen, 63, who killed her husband Richard Challen, 61, with a hammer in August 2010. Photo: Surrey Police/PA Wire
Undated handout file photo issued by Surrey Police of Richard Challen, 61, who was bludgeoned to death by his wife Georgina Challen, 63, with a hammer in August 2010 at their former marital home in Claygate, Surrey. Photo: Surrey Police/PA Wire
Supporters of Georgina Challen outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, where her 'landmark' murder conviction challenge after she bludgeoned her husband to death with a hammer will be heard by leading judges on Wednesday Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
David Challen outside the High Court in London after his mother, Georgina Challen, known as Sally, won an appeal against her conviction for the murder of her husband Richard in a hammer attack at their home in Surrey Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Georgina Challen's son, David Challen (centre) with members of Justice for Women protesting outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Emily Pennink and Aine Fox

The family of a woman who killed her husband in a hammer attack said they were "overjoyed" as she prepared to walk free from prison after almost a decade behind bars.

Georgina Challen, known as Sally, said she killed 61-year-old Richard Challen in August 2010 after years of being controlled and humiliated by him.

She was jailed for life for the murder of the former car dealer following a trial at Guildford Crown Court in 2011.

But her conviction was quashed and a new trial ordered at the Court of Appeal in London in February, in light of new evidence.

Undated handout file photo issued by Surrey Police of Richard Challen, 61, who was bludgeoned to death by his wife Georgina Challen, 63, with a hammer in August 2010 at their former marital home in Claygate, Surrey. Photo: Surrey Police/PA Wire
Undated handout file photo issued by Surrey Police of Richard Challen, 61, who was bludgeoned to death by his wife Georgina Challen, 63, with a hammer in August 2010 at their former marital home in Claygate, Surrey. Photo: Surrey Police/PA Wire

Challen, 65, of Claygate, Surrey, who has been held at HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey, appeared at the Old Bailey by video-link on Friday.

She wiped away tears as Mr Justice Edis granted her conditional bail ahead of her retrial in July.

Challen's sons, David and James Challen, smiled and expressed relief that their mother would soon be freed.

Speaking outside court, David Challen said: "Today 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."

Supporters of Georgina Challen outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, where her 'landmark' murder conviction challenge after she bludgeoned her husband to death with a hammer will be heard by leading judges on Wednesday Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Supporters of Georgina Challen outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, where her 'landmark' murder conviction challenge after she bludgeoned her husband to death with a hammer will be heard by leading judges on Wednesday Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Asked what it will be like when she walks out of prison on Saturday, he said: "It's a massive moment."

He added: "It's a happy day for us, we get to see her again."

Mr Challen, who said he had not yet spoken to his mother following the hearing, said the family are looking forward to "being together again after so long".

The defendant's brother, Chris Jenney, said: "The family are all supporting Sally. We have done from day one. Our strength's built and will build even further. This is a fantastic day for us."

David Challen outside the High Court in London after his mother, Georgina Challen, known as Sally, won an appeal against her conviction for the murder of her husband Richard in a hammer attack at their home in Surrey Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
David Challen outside the High Court in London after his mother, Georgina Challen, known as Sally, won an appeal against her conviction for the murder of her husband Richard in a hammer attack at their home in Surrey Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Earlier, Challen, wearing a black blouse, spoke to confirm her identity from custody.

She pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband on August 14 2010 but guilty to his manslaughter.

The judge granted Challen conditional bail following an application by defence lawyer Clare Wade QC.

He said the defendant should be released from custody on Saturday from 12 noon.

The judge confirmed the trial would be transferred to the Old Bailey as he set a timetable for the case.

Prosecutor Joel Smith pointed out the size of the public gallery in Court One, saying it was a better venue "given the attention this matter has attracted".

Mr Justice Edis set a further hearing for June 7, and a trial on July 1 "if necessary".

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