29 October 2021

Sally Challen condemns Penelope Jackson sentence as ‘appalling’

29 October 2021

A woman who fought to have her murder conviction overturned after killing her abusive husband has said she is “appalled” by the outcome of Penelope Jackson’s case.

Sally Challen was jailed for life in 2011 after she was found guilty of murdering 61-year-old Richard Challen by bludgeoning him to death with a hammer at their home in Surrey the year before.

She was freed in February 2019 when prosecutors accepted her manslaughter plea on the grounds of diminished responsibility, after a psychiatric report concluded she was suffering from an “adjustment disorder”.

Penelope Jackson was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 18 years (Avon and Somerset Police/PA) (PA Media)

A judge said the killing followed “years of controlling, isolating and humiliating conduct” with the added provocation of her husband’s “serial multiple infidelity”.

Coercive control became an offence in England and Wales in 2015.

Mrs Challen criticised the conviction of Jackson who stabbed her husband, 78-year-old David Jackson, with a kitchen knife at their home in Somerset in February.

Jackson was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 18 years for murder.

Mrs Challen said: “I am appalled, upset and I cannot believe that the dinosaurs in the judicial system and the CPS haven’t learnt from my case. My love goes out to Penelope’s family.”

She was joined by Harriet Wistrich, her lawyer and director of the Centre for Women’s Justice.

Ms Wistrich said: “The majority jury verdict and harsh sentence of the judge shows that there is a long way to go before victims of coercive and controlling behaviour can get justice and the understanding they deserve.

“There needs to be a radical transformation of the criminal justice system, which is still steeped in misogynistic myths and stereotypes. Women are punished most severely if they resist, whereas men who snap and kill for no reason get off lightly.

“Contrast this case with the recent cases of Anthony Williams, who strangled his wife to death and was sentenced to five years, or Sam Pybus, who strangled an extremely vulnerable woman, Sophie Moss, to death during a drunken episode of so called ‘rough sex’, who got four years, eight months.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox