The children of aristocrat Sir Richard Sutton have described the loss of “the kindest and most generous man”.
Thomas Schreiber was convicted following a three-week trial at Winchester Crown Court of killing the 83-year-old millionaire hotelier at his Dorset country estate on April 7, 2021, and the attempted murder of 66-year-old Anne Schreiber.
Reading his victim impact statement to the court, Sir David Sutton: “I think of my father every single day. I just cannot believe and comprehend that he is not here anymore.
“I will never see him again, only in memories in my mind, which too easily become fogged over by the horrendous ending he had.
“Having only seen my father in person twice in the previous 15 months due to lockdown and the fact he was isolating, it was a real surprise when he came down to our home in February 2021 to bring me a birthday gift.
“It was a special time; we gave him a whistle-stop tour of the projects we had achieved during lockdown.
“Little did I know at that time that would be the last time I saw him. It was made especially pertinent as a week later I wrote a thank you letter to him and in there I stated all the things we could do together once lockdown was over and we felt safer from this disease, one of which was to go to Durdle Door in Dorset to take some photographs – photography being a passion that we both shared, and a passion for me that was encouraged by my father from an early age.
“Indeed, my father taught me a lot. He had a gentle way of encouraging you to learn something new.
“Not a day goes by when I do not think of my father. I miss him hugely, our relationship was getting better and better, and we had developed a huge respect for each other.
“I feel robbed of the times that I had planned and discussed over the phone. He seemed genuinely excited by our future days out.
“I will always regret they will never happen. The circumstances of his parting gives me feelings of intense anger, sadness and distress.
“So completely unnecessary. I will always carry the guilt and think could I have done more and possibly have changed the course of events.
“The whole gruesome and horrendous crime has impacted on so many people’s lives far and wide, but those closest to me have felt the full force of what has happened.
“The trial has deeply affected me in so many ways. The continuous thoughts of my father’s final moments which we now know to be prolonged and vicious, his pain, his desperation to get help, his fear.
“An act that I feel Mr Schreiber conveniently remembers parts vividly and others not. I have not heard Mr Schreiber say sorry once.”
He added: “I have a feeling of anxiety, of not wanting to go out and find that putting on a brave face is sometimes just too hard. I will live with these feelings and pain for the rest of my life.
“This was a senseless act that has taken away the life all too early of a generous, loving, elderly man who only wanted to enjoy his twilight years.
“An elderly man who was my father, a grandfather to my children and a friend to all who knew him.”
In the statement read on behalf of Caroline Sutton, she said: “My father was the kindest and most generous man you’d ever meet.
“He was loved by all he met and no matter the occasion he would always greet with the widest of smile you’d ever seen.
“I watched him lead by example, never judging, nor believing himself to be better than anyone, entering every interaction with effortless warmth and charm.
“He would always have time for anyone whether they were friends, work associated or family helping whenever he could and just loving to see people happy.
“People say ‘sorry for your loss’ but I didn’t lose him. He was taken from me and although he was in his 80s, the manner in which he was taken was beyond unfair.
“He enjoyed life and was looking forward to many more birthdays, seeing his grandchildren get married and watching his family grow.
“But that didn’t happen. His life was ended so abruptly and in such an unimaginably cruel manner by an individual that he welcomed into his home as a member of his family for years.
“Knowing those details, what that sweet and caring man went through in his last moments will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“The pain and fear and disbelief that someone he gave so much to would repay him with such cruelty is so hard to come to terms with.”
She added: “To me he was my daddy and I wish I could have one more conversation with him and one more time hearing that chuckle. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you.”