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Judge rules Sally Challen can inherit husband's estate

View profile for Penny Manock
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A abused woman who won an appeal over her conviction for murdering her controlling husband can now inherit his estate, a judge has ruled.

Sally Challen was given a life sentence in 2011 after being convicted of murdering her husband in 2010. In February 2019 appeal judges quashed her conviction for murder and ordered a new trial. Mrs Challen was released in June 2019 after prosecutors for the new trial accepted her plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after a psychiatric report concluded she was suffering from an “adjustment disorder”. After being sentenced to nine years and four months for manslaughter, Mrs Challen was released as the judge concluded she had already served her sentence.

This week Judge Paul Matthews concluded that rules preventing people who kill from inheriting their victim’s estate should be waived in Mrs Challen's case. The decision followed a high court hearing in Bristol earlier this month.

Judge Matthews commented “The deceased’s behaviour during their relationship and their marriage was by turns contemptuous, belittling, aggressive or violent”. Mrs Challen killed her husband having suffered decades of controlling and humiliating abuse. He added Mr Challen had “undoubtedly contributed significantly” to the circumstances in which he died".

This is an interesting case since the law usually prevents anyone convicted or murder or manslaughter from inheriting their victim's estate.The ruling means that Mrs Challen - not the couple’s sons - will inherit.

If you know someone who is affected by domestic abuse, our team of family law specialists in Halifax, Huddersfield and Brighouse can help. Legal aid is still available for many cases of domestic violence.

We also have close ties to Halifax Women’s Centre, which supports vulnerable women and hold free legal advice clinics there.