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A woman who won an appeal over her conviction for murdering her controlling husband can inherit his £1m estate, a High Court judge has ruled.
Sally Challen was convicted of murdering Richard Challen in August 2010, but in February last year appeal court judges quashed her conviction and ordered a new trial. She was then sentenced to nine years and four months for manslaughter, but released because she had already served her sentence.
In a ruling last week, judge Paul Matthews said that a rule barring people who kill from inheriting their victim’s estate should be waived in her case.
The judge highlighted that Mrs Challen had been a victim of coercive control and suffered psychiatric illness. “The deceased’s behaviour during their relationship and their marriage was by turns contemptuous, belittling, aggressive or violent,” he said. He added her husband had “undoubtedly contributed significantly” to the circumstances in which he died, commenting that without his “appalling behaviour over so many years” she would not have killed him.
He left no will and the home the couple had shared was jointly owned, The Guardian reports.
Emphasising that every case should be decided on its individual merits, the judge said. “I emphasise that the facts of this terrible case are so extraordinary, with such a fatal combination of conditions and events, that I would not expect them easily to be replicated in any other.”
The ruling means that Mrs Challen, and not the couple’s sons, would inherit and therefore no inheritance tax would be applicable.