Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Husband ‘looked like Incredible Hulk’ as he battered wife and pensioner to death

A husband "looked like the Incredible Hulk as he bludgeoned a pensioner and his own wife to death with a walking stick," a court has heard.

Daniel Appleton, 37, is accused of murdering Sandy Seagrave, 76, with her own walking stick, and his teacher spouse Amy Appleton, 32, three days before Christmas last year.

The elderly woman had stepped in to stop him beating his wife on the driveway of their village home in Crawley Down, West Sussex.

After he had allegedly beaten the pensioner to death Appleton, wearing just his boxer shorts, continued attacking his wife.

Hove Crown Court heard Amy was beaten to death with the same walking stick.

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Neighbours who witnessed the alleged double murder said Appleton looked "huge, bold and puffed up," like the superhero the "Incredible Hulk," famous for his unnatural strength.

Sue Kipps, who lived opposite, said in a statement: "Even from a distance his eyes didn't look right. It was as though he had turned into the Incredible Hulk.

"He's a big guy anyway but he looked different, maybe a bit crazy. He seemed very big, puffed up – like he was in some sort of madness."

The court heard Appleton went back into his house before reappearing moments later completely naked.

He is charged with two counts of murder. He admitted killing the woman but denies murder, claiming it was the result of a psychotic episode.

Prosecutors claim Appleton had taken a synthetic form of LSD and was high when he launched the attacks.

The court heard he admitted killing his wife to a neighbour in the aftermath.

He told Gary Wigzell: "I know I murdered my wife. I know I'm going to prison."

Appleton then went into the house and tried to kill himself, stabbing himself at least five times in the chest with a large kitchen knife, cutting his neck and slashing his thighs.

Neighbour Janet Spragg said she witnessed the attack while on a morning run.

She said: "You could tell she was not happy and was telling him off and he was walking towards her. He was much bigger than Sandy.

"He was quite upright. He was quite determined and there was an altercation.

"She was going over to tell him off about something and his language was bluer and was more aggressive. There were expletives."

Breaking down in tears, Mrs Spragg said she watched as Appleton then suddenly hit the pensioner with the stick.

Sgt Christopher Brakell, who was first on the scene, said he was "shocked" by how normal the house looked.

He said: "This was just a quaint scene. There was a Christmas tree, presents under the tree, ready for Christmas.

"It shocked me to see such normality around such chaos."

The court heard that in an interview with a psychiatrist, Appleton admitted having taken magic mushrooms – a natural hallucinogen – years before.

But forensic searches of his mobile phone found that just 11 days before the killings he had searched for "worse mushrooms, worse mushrooms trip, bad mushrooms trip stories and strongest mushrooms".

Nick Corsellis QC, prosecuting, said hair samples and nail clippings subsequently taken from the defendant showed the presence of 25i-NBOMe – a highly potent synthetic version of LSD – and mephedrone.

Experts believe synthetic LSD and mephedrone drugs could have been responsible for his violent psychotic behaviour and may have been present at the time of the attacks.

The trial continues.

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