Crawley Down deaths: Husband admits killing his wife and elderly passer-by three days before Christmas

Gareth Davies
Amy Appleton (left) and Sandy Seagrave (right)  - PA/Facebook

A husband has admitted killing his wife and an elderly woman in an attack on a suburban Sussex street just three days before Christmas.

Amy Appleton, 32, a much-loved teacher, died of head injuries after she was attacked outside her suburban home in Crawley.

Sandy Seagrave, 76, who lived close by and was described as a "feisty" and "brave" lady who knew no fear, was also killed.

She is understood to have been walking past at the time of the attack and was killed when she tried to intervene.

Both women had suffered catastrophic head injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

On Tuesday, Daniel Appleton, Ms Appleton’s husband, appeared at Lewes Crown Court charged with two counts of murder.

Dressed in a short-sleeved black polo shirt he admitted killing both women but denied murdering them.

The court head that Appleton denied murdering both women because he contests his mental state at the time of the offences.

Mr Lewis Power QC, defending, said the allegations that Appleton killed both women was not in dispute.

The incident happened just three days before Christmas in a quiet residential street in Crawley.

One woman was found lying on a stretch of grass outside the house while another was found lying in the street.

Neighbours say both women were attacked outside the house in broad daylight and were brutally "bludgeoned" to death.

A 37-year-old man was discovered inside a house with serious injuries and was arrested on suspicion of murder. 

He was rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton suffering from serious injuries.

After her death family members described Mrs Appleton as "a rock for her family, a rock for her friends", who always thought of others before herself.

Mrs Appleton, a teacher at nearby Copthorne Church of England junior school, was also described by her family as a "beautiful, caring daughter, sister and friend".

A tribute added: "Amy had an amazing personality. She was such a strong, positive person who always smiled. She was a rock for her family, a rock for her friends and most of all a rock for herself. Amy always thought of others before herself."

It added: "Amy led the life she was destined to fill, following her passions. Her school will be missing an incredible, dedicated teacher, she gave 110% to her pupils. Her light will always shine in our lives but a hole has been left with broken hearts.

"The whole family would like to send heartfelt thanks for all kind messages and thoughtful tributes. Keep shining our girl, you will forever be in our hearts."

Mrs Seagrave’s family described her as "one of a kind, an eccentric character who was stubbornly independent, feisty, brave and not afraid of anything".

"She was devoted to children and especially animals, including a wild fox who we are continuing to feed now that she has gone," their tribute added.

Daniel Appleton will go on trial charged with the murders on July 6.