A man “intent on murder” killed his wife and a pensioner with a walking stick amid a “psychotic episode” months after his honeymoon, a court has been told.
Daniel Appleton, 38, of Crawley Down, West Sussex, denies murdering Amy Appleton, 32, and Sandy Seagrave, 76. Both suffered head injuries in the village on 22 December.
Jurors were told on Monday that he chased Amy out of their home and attacked her on the driveway before Seagrave, who was passing by, went over to intervene.
She tried to speak to Appleton but he murdered her with her own walking stick before using it to kill his wife, too, Hove Crown Court was told.
Opening the case against him on Monday, Nicholas Corsellis QC said Appleton then went inside to kill himself “in the most determined of ways”, causing self-inflicted slash wounds.
The emergency services managed to save Appleton, who the court heard has no criminal past or history of violence.
Corsellis told the jury the defendant “accepts that he was responsible” but to consider whether the killings happened because of “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?”
Hair and nail samples from Appleton revealed traces of a psychoactive substance similar to LSD, the court heard.
“This is not a case of what happened, who did it, but a question of why and the lead up to,” Corsellis said.
The Appletons were married in October 2018 after a roughly 13-year relationship, and had gone on a delayed honeymoon months before the killings took place.
Amy Appleton was a teacher at Copthorne Junior School and considered a “loving, generous person” who was “never confrontational” and held in the “highest regard” at her workplace, Corsellis said.
The court heard that a neighbour, Ivonne Greenwell, heard voices come from the couple’s bedroom on the morning of 22 December, with the defendant shouting and screaming: “I’ve had f****** enough of this! I’m f****** done with this!”
She heard Amy’s voice, but it was not loud or confrontational, and then heard the defendant shout “I could murder you”, the court heard.
Jurors were told she called the police and saw Appleton walk down his driveway wearing only boxer shorts, with Seagrave pointing her walking stick at him.
The court heard Appleton was seen grabbing it, hitting her with it forcefully and then Amy’s body was seen on the driveway.
The prosecution said a witness went to help Amy, who did not respond, before being told by Appleton: “I know I’ve killed my wife and I know I am going to prison.”
When police arrived, they found Appleton in his house and covered in blood, jurors were told.
The trial continues.