Murder Charge

17 August 2010, 18:23 | Updated: 18 August 2010, 05:41

A 56-year-old woman will appear in court today charged with the murder of her estranged husband who was found bludgeoned to death at his home.

The body of Richard Challen was found at the property in Claygate near Esher, Surrey, on Sunday after he suffered ``severe blunt-force trauma to the head'', Surrey Police said.

His wife, Sally Challen, was arrested after she drove to Beachy Head, East Sussex.

She was persuaded to leave the edge of the clifftop by specialist police officers after three hours of negotiation.

Challen, an office manager of Coverts Road, Claygate, was charged with murder last night and will appear at Staines Magistrates' Court today.

The body of 61-year-old Mr Challen, a retired owner of a car dealership, was formally identified yesterday.

His two sons said in a statement released through police: ``This is an incredibly difficult time for us and we would like to thank the family and friends who have come forward and offered their support over the last few days.

``There has been a lot of speculation as a result of our father's death which has caused us additional distress and we would ask that we are now left in private as we try to deal with what has happened.''

A post-mortem examination carried out yesterday gave the cause of his death as severe blunt-force trauma to the head, according to police.

The couple, who have two sons, are understood to have split up around a year ago.

Mr Challen sold his car dealership, Westlake Garages in Richmond, south-west London, when he retired in August 2008.

Mr Challen received a 51-week prison term suspended for 18 months in 2006 when he crashed his Ferrari at a race track in Belgium, then invented a hit-and-run accident to claim #35,000 for repairs.

The businessman tried the con because his wife had forgotten to send a fax to his insurers to get cover for the event, the Daily Telegraph reported at the time.

The then 57-year-old told police a lorry hit the 183mph Berlinetta near his home but he confessed when his insurers became suspicious.

He pleaded guilty at Guildford Crown Court to attempting to obtain goods by deception.