THE son of an abused mum who killed his dad with a hammer has begged for her release – saying “society let her down”.
Sally Challen was caged for life after admitting she battered “abusive” partner Richard to death in 2010.
Challen, 64, who has served seven years, was portrayed at her trial as a jealous wife who battered Richard to death because she believed he was having an affair.
But fresh evidence suggests she was a long-standing victim of Richard’s “coercive and controlling” behaviour will be heard by the Court of Appeal tomorrow.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, the couple’s son David today revealed how he was backing his mum’s appeal – and how he felt helpless knowing the abuse she suffered at the hands of his father.
The 31-year-old said: “I think as a society we have let her down.”
And he described his pain of knowing Challen should have been better supported to leave the relationship before it came to a head.
David said: “Could we have done more? Without the language, you feel helpless.
“I’ve felt helpless for the last eight years because I haven’t had the language.”
‘SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROTECTED’
The young man, who has been campaigning for his mum’s release with brother James, 34, said they had slowly come to realise the extent of their father’s abuse as they grew up in the “toxic” home environment.
He described how his father – who met their mother when she was just 15 – would verbally and financially control Challen throughout their three decade relationship.
David said: “It’s very hard to describe what it’s like to live in a coercive, controlled family. You can’t put a finger on what’s happening – it’s a bad atmosphere but we could still tell it was toxic.”
He said just one example of the poisonous relationship was when his father cut his mum’s car’s cables so she couldn’t leave the house.
Speaking passionately today, David said: “It’s not a licence to kill, but you have to recognise the root cause of it.
“She should have been afforded the protection.”
Questioning whether he could have done more, he said: “You can’t see a person breaking. It breaks me that I couldn’t see that because she seemed a very strong person.”
The young man said his mother was “highly emotional” knowing that if her appeal is unsuccessful she faces remaining behind bars until she is 74.
MOST READ IN NEWS
The campaign group Justice for Women, led by human rights lawyer Harriet Wistrich, went to the Appeal Court in March to argue a law change made “coercive and controlling” behaviour a criminal offence.
Ms Wistrich said: “Our argument is that if this evidence is allowed as fresh evidence it renders the murder conviction unsafe therefore that murder conviction should be quashed.”
She says appeal judges should reduce the conviction to manslaughter or even demand a retrial.
At trial, Sally was said to have murdered Richard because she believed he was having an affair[/caption]
David Challen with members of Justice for Women protesting outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London[/caption]
If you’re experiencing domestic violence, you’re not alone. Please visit the Refuge website for help.