A HUSBAND who had a psychotic episode, bludgeoning his wife to death and killing a pensioner who tried to stop him, may have taken powerful synthetic drugs.

A jury heard evidence that Daniel Appleton took psychoactive substances, 25I-NBOMe and mephedrone, before killing two women. 

Appleton, 37, dragged his wife Amy out of their home and beat her to death on the driveway. 

He also killed their elderly neighbour Sandy Seagrave, beating her head with her own walking stick, when she confronted him.

Following the attack, on December 22 last year, Appleton tried to take his own life.

Appleton, who denies murder, has already admitted killing the two women in Crawley Down, near Gatwick Airport.

Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis QC told the jury: “He was experiencing a psychotic episode.

“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.”

The Argus: Amy Appleton and Sandy Seagrave were killed in Hazel Way, Crawley DownAmy Appleton and Sandy Seagrave were killed in Hazel Way, Crawley Down

The court heard Appleton has no history of violence or previous convictions.

Toxicology found no illegal street drugs, Mr Corsellis said, although it is impossible to test for every drug.

A forensic pharmacologist said Appleton’s behaviour was likely to be as a result of 25I-NBOMe - a highly potent, synthetic hallucinogen.

Samples of Appleton's hair and nail clippings were then tested by a specialist based in France called Professor Kintz.

His specialist testing techniques found traces of 25I-NBOMe and 4-MMC - also known as mephedrone. 

From the samples, he concluded that the drugs could have been present in Appleton at the time of the killings.

Furthers tests on a sample of Appleton's hair revealed the presence of two other drugs, levetiracetam and carbamazepine 

READ MORE: Husband murdered wife and elderly lady in 'psychotic episode', court hears

The court heard that just weeks before the killings, Appleton made a series of internet searches for information on "magic mushrooms".

Analysis of Appleton’s phone also revealed he searched for terms such as “worse mushrooms, worse mushrooms trip, bad mushrooms trip stories and strongest mushrooms".

After the killings, he was interviewed by psychiatrists and disclosed that he had experimented with "magic mushrooms" when on a stag weekend many years ago.

Appleton denies murder, the trial continues.