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In June 2014, Margaret Evans, a 69-year-old hairdresser was found brutally murdered in her home in Portstewart, Northern Ireland. Known as "Margo" to friends and customers, Margaret Evans had run the Madam Margo beauty salon in Portstewart for decades before retiring just months before her death. Though her son, Alun Kinney Evans, initially refused to admit to killing his mother, he eventually pleaded guilty. He also maintains that the murder occurred while he was under the influence of methoxphenidine (MXP), a designer drug known to cause serious hallucinations and other cognitive symptoms. Now banned under the Psychoactive Substances Act which came into effect earlier this year, MXP could be legally obtained as a recreational drug at the time of Margaret Evans' murder.
The 34-year-old Alun Evans had a longtime history of drug use and psychiatric problems but was living with his parents when the murder took place. His mother reportedly had a loving and supportive relationship with her son despite his chronic drug use. In the days leading up to his mother's death, Alun had been taking MXP and alcohol. He told the court that he had purchased the MXP online because he was looking for a drug that could treat his depression.
Though he reported that he "felt like Superman" after first taking MXP, he developed severe hallucinations and his behaviour became increasingly bizarre. His mother advised him to drink water to flush the drug from his system but his condition deteriorated instead. On June 4, 2014, neighbours saw Alun Evans naked on the family patio. When they investigated further, they found the body of his mother with severe trauma to the chest and head. After police arrived on the scene, Alun told them, ""I think I killed her, I think I've killed my mum. I had to kill my mum today - she's a witch."
When found by the police, he was covered in cow manure which he had been eating. He had physical injuries due to trying to cut his wrists and neck with barbed wire and was also drinking out of a bird bath. Following hospitalization to treat his injuries and to undergo a forensic assessment, he was then remanded to Maghaberry Prison.
During the trial, the court heard autopsy results showing that Margaret Evans had been kicked, punched, stamped on, and struck repeatedly with a piece of wood before dying of blunt force trauma to the head and chest. Alun's sister, Samantha Scott, filed a victim impact statement which read: "Sometimes I feel angry and other times I worry about how he is coping with knowing what he has done. "I feel very grieved for him as I know he wasn't in his right state of mind when he did this awful thing. We don't wish to see him rot in a prison cell and then be sent on his way. We would rather see Alun receive the help that he has needed for so long."
In handing down his decision to sentence Alun Evans to an indeterminate custodial sentence, the judge declared him to be a significant threat to the community though he also ordered that he receive treatment. Under the terms of his sentence, Alun Evans will serve a minimum of five years in prison for manslaughter.
The online site where Alun Evans purchased MXP is still active at this time.
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