In 2011 Sally Challen, a mother of two from Surrey, United Kingdom, was jailed for life for bludgeoning her husband to death whilst he was sat at the families kitchen table eating lunch. After committing such a gruesome crime Sally proceeded to cover her husband Richards body in a pair of old curtains and placed a note which read “I love you” on top.
Nobody at the trial was shocked when the jury found Sally to be unanimously guilty of murder, not even her family. But all is not what it seems in this case and in 2019 Sally’s appeal gripped the newspapers and the nation. Her defence lawyers are now arguing that she was a victim of Richard’s “coercive control”, a newly understood type of psychological abuse and that she should be in prison for manslaughter, not murder.
In this BBC special we see for the first time a case involving coercive control has been presented to the courts as a partial defence to murder.