26 5 mins 2 yrs

I noted a headline the other day, with a name which rang a loud bell for me. Sally Challen had just been informed of a High Court decision which would allow her to claim the estate of her dead husband. Now this statement may appear strange to some, but if you read the story linked below, you would find that she had previously been precluded from the inheritance because she had murdered her husband; and as is well known, criminals are forbidden from profiting by their crime. But the Judge was persuaded that ‘this was different’ because she had been ‘coerced’ into her crime, and therefore should be able to benefit from her dead husband’s estate.

All because a bunch of do-gooders had got a Parliament Law altered which allows for ‘coercive or controlling behaviour’ to be taken into account when a crime is committed.

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about this murderess who bluffed her way to a reprieve and release from a fully-justified sentence. As I wrote-

The majority of thinking Brits will have now read of the decision by the Courts not to charge Sally Challen after she was released from prison after a long campaign by her family, which claimed she was ‘controlled’ by her husband, and which was the reason she hit him twenty times over the head with a hammer.

As is ‘explained’ by the linked article in the Daily Mail, she was only considered for release after coercive and controlling behaviour was criminalised in 2015, and her solicitor could begin claiming that she was forced into this killing after many years of this ‘controlling and coercive behaviour’ by her husband.

Now I have a small sum of knowledge of women who have been in abusive relationships, for either long or short periods; having visited ‘Refuges’ on a couple of occasions, and the one thing which always comes to the fore is that the women made a conscious decision to seek help; to leave the premises where that abuse was happening, and to seek ‘Refuge’.

We are supposed to believe that this woman took the alleged beatings, emotional and physical abuse ‘because she loved him’!

She is supposed to have finally snapped, and killed this man whilst in a violent rage. Well, she did kill him, but she planned this death. She killed him because she was fed up with his constant cheating. She brought a hammer in whilst her husband was eating his breakfast, buried the hammer head into his skull over twenty times. When the jury heard of the systematic plans, of the manner in which she killed her husband, and then attempted to commit suicide at Beachy Head, they found her guilty of murder, and she was sentenced to a minimum 18 years in prison.

She was released, but I believe the Jury called it correct the first time, and she might have served eight years, but she should have served the full eighteen years minimum term; because she murdered her husband.

All she had to do was leave. All she had to do was get out, with the kids, and then sue for divorce: as she had previously sued. But then we are supposed to understand that she changed her mind, and went back to her husband! All she had to do was seek refuge: but instead she chose violence, she chose murder! She didn’t just hit him with a hammer, she hit him more than twenty times, and then attempted suicide.

Release her early because she was suffering from two previously undiscovered mental illnesses? All you need is a good brief, an accommodating psychiatrist, a judge amenable to a really good story, an overly-permissive Law; and you can not only get away with murder, you get the lolly as well!

 
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26 thoughts on “The wages of sin? Not death; but instead a cool £1Million

  1. This is a well argued post and difficult to disagree with. On a human emotional level I think most people would view Sally Challen with great sympathy and if we are honest wouldn’t be too upset about the death of her controlling wicked husband. But as Mike points out, she did have choices and by her own admission the killing didn’t occur during a violent confrontation , but as a planned action. Much as he may have ‘deserved it’ it is a dangerous precedent if we start to ‘allow’ people to judge and then kill partners as the way out of their predicament. However on the other side, she hasn’t been cleared, she remains convicted of the crime of manslaughter and served 8 years in prison – some actual convicted murderers serve less – which I think in the circumstances is a sufficient penalty.

    I understand the law that stops people inheriting or being able to receive money as a result of a crime but in this case clearly the crime was not done for financial gain. It is logical that his estate remains with the family primarily for his sons and I don’t really have a problem with the specific judicial decision on the estate in this case.

  2. I think it’s a correct decision. A spouse usually has a compulsory share of the deceased spouse’s estate, as the estate is rightfully considered part hers if she abandoned gainful occupation to have and bring up the couple’s children, as in this case. But additionally in this case the husband confiscated his wife’s earnings for years, so an even bitter part of the estate belongs to her.
    The woman is very honourably renouncing her share in the estate in favour of her sons.

    The fact that her sons don’t seem to have much problem with their father’s death and now welcome back his murderer also speaks in the wife’s favour. There are limits to what a person can take from a bastard like that. Sometimes in a marriage the only way to get justice is with the breadknife.

  3. Sometimes in a marriage the only way to get justice is with the breadknife.

    Its easy to agree with that on an emotional level Noel, but it isn’t true. She could have left him and divorced him.

  4. I largely agree with Noel’s comment. People are trapped in abusive relationships for years and it isn’t always just as easy to up and leave.

  5. Of course it isn’t easy . There are no easy options in this situation. And while I disagree with Mike’s too harsh “She’s just a wicked murderess who should serve her full sentence” viewpoint – I think the other extreme “she’s a hero who should be totally vindicated” is equally wrong. I do lean heavily towards her in sympathy and I would shed no tears for the death of her husband – but I still think this cannot be seen as a case of absolutely justified homicide.

  6. It’s not seen as that – hence the eight years spent in prison.

    As to Mike’s callous ‘the wages of sin is a cool £1Million’ suggestion of some kind of payback,

    The woman is very honorably renouncing her share in the estate in favor of her sons

  7. //The woman is very honorably renouncing her share in the estate in favor of her sons//

    Paul, how dare you quote me with American spelling!! 🙂

    Colm, I can only assume you haven’t met many women – and it’s always women – in controlling abusive marriages. More often they just kill themselves.

  8. “Colm, I can only assume you haven’t met many women – and it’s always women – in controlling abusive marriages. More often they just kill themselves.”

    A third of domestic abuse victims are men (according to surveys). Now some of those will undoubtedly be in same-sex relationships but I would say that majority of that third are being abused by women. 25% of the domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police last year were against men. Same caveat applies. 26% of domestic homicide victims are men. 16% of all victims killed by a partner or a former partner were men. And men made up over half of all killings by non-partner family members.

    Now all of this still skews heavily in the direction of a female victim, male perpetrator. And it is also true that men are more likely to be the victims of non-domestic violence as well. It creates a statistic where 5% of all men killed in England and Wales last year were killed by a partner or former partner. 56% of all women killed in that same period were killed by a partner or former partner.

    Of all suspects identified in domestic homicides 18% were women.

    It is simply wrong to say it is always women who are the victims. They are the victims the majority of the time. But there are also the perpetrators on occasion.

  9. Thanks Seamus again for one of your impressive factual analysis’ of an emotive story. Mike, Noel and Paul all – from different sides- take a simplistic view that she is either a vile murderer or completely innocent whose act of killing was entirely justified. Noel’s stupid remark that I can’t have known any abused women just because I don’t take a simplistic absolutist approach to this shows that he prefers to virtue signal over this matter rather than accept that it can have grey areas and isn’t as clean cut as he thinks it should be.

    On a human level yes I can cheer that she polished off her bastard of a husband, but I can also accept that its dangerous for the law to allow such killings to go unpunished. There have been men in the past who have been cleared by sympathetic judges because they had snapped and killed wives who had ‘nagged them for years” – those decisions were wrong and if we start allowing people, men or women to ‘execute’ their abusive partners we create a loophole that in itself will be abused.

  10. Mike, Noel and Paul all – from different sides- take a simplistic view that she is either a vile murderer or completely innocent whose act of killing was entirely justified.

    I don’t think she was completely innocent or the killing was entirely justified Colm, but there were certainly mitigating circumstances. Neither did the crime go unpunished – she served eight years in prison for it.

  11. Paul

    I accept that and I was a bit too harsh on you. I was more annoyed really by Noel’s snide comment that I can’t know any abused women – he knows damn all about the experiences I am aware of among my own family and friends – just because I take less than absolute defense of her behavior view on the matter.

    For what its worth I do actually think 8 years was too long, but it was right for her to have a criminal conviction. Legal compassion would have been appropriate in giving her less jail time but it was right that the law does not excuse killings in these circumstances.

  12. No harm done Colm.

    It appears from what I read here that it was a premeditated, planned killing so justice must of course take its course. A criminal conviction was certainly warranted.

  13. // I was more annoyed really by Noel’s snide comment that I can’t know any abused women –//

    Sorry, Colm, for any offfence caused. But why don’t you ask yourself instead why abused woman don’t simply walk away? Do they enjoy the abuse?

    I should have thought most people who have witnessed emotional relationships realise they can’t be analysed through a factual or even logical perspective. I’ve seen time and time again how normally sane people become totally irrational – one way or another – when entangled in an intense relationship. I’ve seen people do the most absurd and uncharacteristic things. Mr and Mrs Jones who’ve been married for donkey’s years and living parallel lives may be a different matter. Passion and emotional dependence aren’t in every marriage, but they are in most marriages where such crimes occur.

    The simplistic thing is to say “the woman should have just walked away”, she had “a choice”. That’s like saying a junkie should just give up the needle and then loads of Happy Ever After. He also has a choice. The woman in fact is even less guilty. The needle doesn’t change, but you can be sure hubby wasn’t so abusive when his wife was younger and more attractive.

    There is a degree of compulsion that was in this case correctly recognised by the judge. 8 years was far too severe a sentence IMO.

  14. She deliberately intended to kill her husband. That would almost be textbook murder. Both actus and mens rea. I think the abuse she suffered over the years does lend itself to an argument of diminished responsibility. As such the murder conviction, that she originally received, would be wrong but the voluntary manslaughter conviction would be correct.

    In terms of the other issue, the inheritance, it is actually a interesting question. The law, and the spirit of the law, would suggest that a criminal should not financially benefit from their crime. However there is an argument that Sally Challen will not financially benefit from this decision (and by extension her crime). When her husband was killed her sons inherited his estate (primarily his half share of their shared family home). They paid considerable inheritance tax on that, some estimates being £270k. Challen has indicated that she does not wish to regain control of the estate from her sons. So the legal aspect would be that she has inherited her husband’s half of the estate (and gifts that half to her sons). That gift, depending on value, would be tax free. So they are, by Challen winning this case, are claiming back the £270k paid in inheritance tax.

    So the only people financially benefiting from the decision (and thus the crime) are the sons, not the perpetrator.

  15. Paul, it’s with Patrick. But he’s probably still between the sheets.

    //The law, and the spirit of the law, would suggest that a criminal should not financially benefit from their crime. //

    Is it not the case that for a couple with a matrimonial regime of accrued gains (which is probably the default situation), the spouse automatically has a right to half of the assets accrued during the marriage? i.e. not just an inheritance claim but her own right no matter how the marriage ends, e.g. thru separation. I think the rationale behind it is that she contributed to these gains by looking after the family, home etc.

    In that case it would be wrong to deny her her assets the same as they don’t confiscate a criminal’s house and stamp collection when he’s jailed.

  16. “8 years was far too severe a sentence IMO.”

    UK sentencing guidelines use a concept known as ‘level of responsibility retained’ when discussing voluntary manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Simply put that someone with a high level of responsibility for the crime would be held to more account than someone with a very low level of responsibility for the crime. For the lowest responsibility for the crime the starting point in the sentencing guidelines is 7 years in custody, with a range of 3 to 12 years in custody.

    There are then aggravating factors (and some mitigating factors). It is worth pointing out that most of the mitigating factors in Sally Challen’s case would be taken into account in reducing her crime to manslaughter, and reducing her responsibility to ‘low’. So she doesn’t get a lot more benefit of the doubt. The use of the weapon is an aggravating factor, as is the degree of premeditation. The judge determined that it would be nine years and four months.

    Now it is worth remembering that all offences have 50/50 remission in the UK – if you are sentenced to 8 years you actually only spend 4 in prison. So for an 8 year prison sentence Sally Challen would have to be sentenced to 16 years. So that would be four years, and eight months, in actual prison. So she did spend too long in prison, but not substantially so. And as far as I am aware she was released in full, rather than released on license. So she served 8 years in prison, a no years on license (and no conditions), instead of 4 years 8 months in prison, and 4 years 8 months on license (with conditions).

  17. “In that case it would be wrong to deny her her assets the same as they don’t confiscate a criminal’s house and stamp collection when he’s jailed.”

    If the criminal only gained the house through illegal means then they do confiscate it. Sally Challen wouldn’t have gained half the marital assets if she hadn’t murdered her husband. Thus she would be receiving proceeds from her crime, not from her marriage.

  18. In the Klan?

    Judging by some of his comments last night, at least four of those sheets were to the wind 😊

  19. //So for an 8 year prison sentence Sally Challen would have to be sentenced to 16 years. So that would be four years, and eight months, in actual prison. So she did spend too long in prison, but not substantially so. //

    Not substantially too long? – 3 years and four months too long, if I understand you right. I know a guy who spent 6 months inside for a driving offence, and he said you may think a month or two flies by, but try spending that in jail. 3 years for an unstable woman in terribly too long.

    //Hey, Cunning Noel//

    Paul, I forgot to mention in your post that I didn’t abbreviate my name to indicate any slyness on my part. I just dropped the “ham” for fear of offending Muslims after 9-11.

  20. //Sally Challen wouldn’t have gained half the marital assets if she hadn’t murdered her husband.//

    My point was that she had an automatic right to half the marital assets irrespective of how the marriage ended, e.g. but divorce or death of the spouse, if they had that standard property regime. But I don’t know what the law is at the place in question.

    //“But he’s probably still between the sheets.”

    In the Klan?//

    RMAO!!! And such speed. That’s definitely one for the dinner table this evening.

  21. I just dropped the “ham” for fear of offending Muslims after 9-11.

    Superb.

  22. “Not substantially too long? – 3 years and four months too long, if I understand you right”

    I think in the broad scheme of things, especially compared to other people who spend long times in prison for no crime at all. Not least because she has already been treated with tremendous leniency. Of the four levels of responsibility (Total, High, Medium and Low) they went from treating her of having total responsibility to low responsibility. I’m not, in all honesty, sure I agree with that. I think she had some diminished responsibility. But I wouldn’t have reduced it from total to low.

    “My point was that she had an automatic right to half the marital assets irrespective of how the marriage ended, e.g. but divorce or death of the spouse, if they had that standard property regime. But I don’t know what the law is at the place in question.”

    My understanding of English law is that there is no such thing as community or marital property. All assets are owned by an individual, with no de jure joint assets. Now in practice both a husband and wife will own a family home, for example. But in law they will have an equal ownership share but that ownership share will belong to each person individually.

    So a husband and wife will own the family home. But they both individually own half of it, rather than owning all of it as a couple.

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