Sussex man who murdered his wife and a passerby is jailed for life
A Sussex man who murdered his wife and a passerby who tried to save her has been jailed for life - with a minimum of 26 and a half years.
Daniel Appleton, 38, was in the grip of a psychotic episode brought on by his use of a form of synthetic LSD, known as an NPS, when he snatched a metal walking stick from passerby 76-year-old Sandra Seagrave.
An eye witness said he looked like the Incredible Hulk as he clubbed her to death with it before using the same stick to beat his wife Amy to death on the driveway of their home in Hazel Way, Crawley Down, just before Christmas 2019.
Appleton needed a similar stick to climb the stairs into the dock at Court 3 in Lewes where he sobbed as the judge told him that he would serve life with a minimum of 26-and-a-half years.
The Honourable Mr Justice Hilliard said he accepted Appleton was remorseful beyond words before telling him he had to sentence on the basis he had taken a New Psychoactive Substance.
Appleton broke down in tears as Nicholas Corsellis QC told the court: ”He killed his wife Amy, 32, and Mrs Sandra Seagrave when she came to her assistance as she saw she was being attacked on her driveway.”
The judge said Appleton could have been driven to kill during a drug flashback from drugs taken months before the Christmas killings.
Appleton made a serious attempt to kill himself following the murders, stabbing himself several times in the chest and cutting arteries in his legs.
Traces of NPS were found in samples of hair and toenails taken from Appleton in hospital.
“Anyone who takes a NPS is interfering with their own mental processes and is responsible for the consequences,” he told Appleton.
The judge said was satisfied Appleton would not have acted in the way he did without the influence of drugs.
Appleton did not look up at his family members or Amy’s mum in the public gallery as he was taken down.
The judge said he was satisfied Appleton had intended to kill the woman he loved and the pensioner who confronted him in a savage attack.
Lewes Crown Court heard Appleton’s mood changed on the Sunday morning he murdered the two women.
Hs mood became explosive, the judge said.
Appleton was heard shouting: “I could murder you,” before dragging his half naked wife out of their home and beating her to death on the driveway.
He was described by eyewitnesses as a raging Hulk who ranted he was God following the attack.
Appleton told a jury his memory of the savage killings was like a videotape on fast forward.
Police found him naked in a pool of his own blood in the family kitchen.
A jury at Hove Trial Centre took two days to reach unanimous guilty verdicts on both murders.
Appleton blamed his psychotic episode on anxiety over starting a family and stress at work.
He was a partner in a successful specialist garage near his Crawley Down home.
During the second day of his evidence, Appleton offered an emotional apology to the families of the women he killed.
Asked by his counsel, Lewis Power QC, how he felt about the deaths he said: “I’m, I’m devastated.
“Absolutely devastated by what has happened.
“Amy was very special to us all.”
He said he was also “devastated” for the loss of Mrs Seagrave and could not bring himself to imagine the trauma her family had gone through.