Man battered wife and OAP to death with walking stick after taking LSD-style drugs, court hears

A man murdered an elderly woman with her own walking stick before also killing his wife after taking LSD-style drugs, a court heard.

Daniel Appleton, 38, attacked the women during a "psychotic episode"  just three days before Christmas last year in West Sussex.

Hove Crown Court heard Appleton chased his wife Amy out of their home and began to attack her on their driveway on December 22.

Sandra Seagrave, 76, saw what was happening and hurried over, using her walking stick to assist her. Despite being less than five feet tall, she bravely intervened by speaking to Appleton in an effort to protect Amy.

It was then, prosecutors say, that Appleton – "intent on murder" – turned his aggression towards the vulnerable pensioner and murdered her with her own walking stick.

He then returned to his wife – a beloved schoolteacher aged 32 – and proceeded to bludgeon her to death with it too.

Police at the scene in Crawley Down

Credit: Eddie Mitchell

Appleton, of Hazel Way in Crawley Down, denies their murders and appeared in the dock at Hove Crown Court on Monday for trial.

Opening the case, prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis QC Appleton, who has no history of criminality or violence, had been experiencing a "psychotic episode".

He told the jury: "However 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?"

He said that samples of the defendant’s hair and nail clippings were tested and traces of a psychoactive substance similar to LSD were found.

Mr Corsellis added: "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."

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

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