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Man bludgeoned wife and pensioner to death with walking stick, court hears

Written by on 17 November 2020

A man bludgeoned his wife and a pensioner to death with a walking stick, a court has heard.

Daniel Appleton, who denies murder, had traces of “illegal drugs” in his system and had been experiencing a “psychotic episode”, a jury was told.

The 38-year-old chased his wife Amy out of their home in West Sussex on 22 December last year and began to attack her on their driveway, Hove Crown Court heard.

Jurors heard how passer-by Sandra Seagrave, 76, who was less than 5ft tall, saw what was happening in the village of Crawley Down and tried to help Mrs Appleton.

But the man turned his aggression towards Ms Seagrave and killed her with her own walking stick, prosecutors said.

He is said to have then returned to his 32-year-old wife – a teacher – and killed her with the same implement.

As the emergency services started to arrive, Appleton, who has no history of criminality or violence, went back into his home and tried to take his own life in the “most determined of ways”, said Nicholas Corsellis QC, prosecuting.

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The court heard the defendant had stabbed himself several times but was eventually charged with the murders after emergency services saved his life.

Mr Corsellis said Appleton had been experiencing a “psychotic episode”, the reason for which needed to be examined.

He told the jury: “The key question for you in this trial is: Was his mental state due to the use of illegal drugs or was it as a result of a temporary mental psychotic breakdown which the defendant is blameless for?”

Mr Corsellis said samples of Appleton’s hair and nail clippings were tested and traces of a psychoactive substance similar to LSD were found.

The prosecution lawyer continued: “The defendant accepts that he was responsible – his actions led to the death of his wife and to a passer-by who he had never met before.

“This is not a case of what happened, who did it, but a question of why and the lead up to [it].”

The trial, which is expected to last several weeks, continues.