Man guilty of murdering hotelier and trying to kill his own mother

·5-min read

An artist has been found guilty of the murder of millionaire hotelier Sir Richard Sutton and the attempted murder of his own mother.

Thomas Schreiber was convicted following a three-week trial at Winchester Crown Court of stabbing the pair at the baronet’s Dorset country estate on April 7, 2021.

The defendant, wearing a blue suit and tie with a pink shirt, closed his eyes as the verdict was announced.

A cry of “Yes” could be heard from the public gallery, where some members of the family were sitting.

Others, including the defendant’s mother Anne Schreiber who he was convicted of trying to kill, watched by video-link.

The jury of 10 men and two women reached a majority verdict of 11 to one on both counts after four hours and 51 minutes of deliberations.

Sir Richard Sutton and Anne Schreiber
Sir Richard Sutton and his partner Anne Schreiber, who were savagely attacked by her son (family handout/PA)

Adjourning the case for sentencing on Monday, the judge, Mr Justice Garnham, told the defendant: “The only sentence I can pass is of life imprisonment but for the offence of murder I have to set the minimum number of years and I also have to sentence you for the attempted murder of your mother.”

Speaking to the jury, he added: “I am extremely grateful to you all for the evident care you have taken in this case, it’s been a difficult case to listen to.”

Sir Richard’s family said in a statement: “How could any family recover from such a sudden and devastating loss.

“We can never bring back Sir Richard but his spirit will very much live on, alongside the very happy memories we have of our incredible father, brother and grandfather.

“His values of being warm, generous and compassionate to everyone he met will be carried forward by future generations, and will never be extinguished.”

The 35-year-old defendant admitted carrying out the “horror show” knife attack on the pair on the eighth anniversary of the death of his alcoholic father, David Schreiber, after he said his mother shouted at him for being “drunk life his father”.

He told the court: “I just went completely crazy, I completely snapped and I just launched for her and began attacking her uncontrollably.”

He had admitted manslaughter but denied the murder of the baronet, saying he had “lost control” of himself and had not intended to hurt him or his mother.

Ms Schreiber suffered up to 15 separate injuries on her head and body, including a partially severed spinal cord which has left her paralysed.

Thomas Schreiber
Court sketch as Thomas Schreiber listened to his mother Anne Schreiber giving evidence by video-link (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Sir Richard suffered three deep wounds to his face and five to his chest, up to 12cm deep.

Schreiber had also pleaded guilty to driving a Range Rover dangerously on the A303, A4 and M3 when he failed to stop for armed police in a 135mph pursuit into central London.

As he was detained in Chiswick, the defendant stabbed himself in the chest and told officers: “Please kill me now, please just shoot me.”

The attack happened at Sir Richard’s Moorhill estate near Gillingham, Dorset, which he shared with the Schreiber family following the separation of the defendant’s parents.

The trial has heard the defendant was angry with his mother for “abandoning” his father, who suffered from depression, to move in with Sir Richard and accused her of being a “gold-digging bitch”.

Schreiber, an aspiring painter, also felt Sir Richard treated him unfairly compared to his two sisters despite him receiving a £1,000 monthly allowance and £100,000 towards buying a house.

The court heard family arguments descended into violence on three previous occasions, including once when Sir Richard hit the defendant with his walking stick in November 2020. It caused the cane to shatter and left Schreiber “humiliated”.

The defendant blamed lockdown for worsening his mental health by forcing him to remain in the “toxic pressure boiler” environment of Sir Richard’s estate.

Sir Richard Sutton
Sir Richard Sutton was murdered by his partner’s son (family handout/PA)

In March 2021, he had written to a friend: “I’m so sad to report that my mind is consumed with hatred of the very worst kind towards my family.

“They really hurt me, betrayed me and destroyed all trust. Simply put, I contemplate murdering them all, morning, day and night. It’s not what I want to think about but it’s the truth. I want them to suffer.”

Detective Inspector Simon Huxter, of Dorset Police, said: “This was an utterly tragic and senseless incident that has left Sir Richard and Anne’s family and friends devastated and our thoughts remain with them at this extremely difficult time.

“I would like to thank and pay tribute to them for all the support they have given to our investigation as well as the dignity that they have shown throughout their ordeal, which culminated in a detailed criminal trial.

“It was noted in court that it was thanks to the efforts of the first officers to arrive at the scene and subsequent medical assistance from paramedics and hospital staff that this case only involved one fatality and not two. While Anne sadly suffered serious life-changing injuries, the outcome could have been even worse had it not been for their intervention.

“I am grateful to all those officers and staff from Dorset Police and other forces who assisted in the immediate response on the night as well as our subsequent investigation.

“Thanks to the dynamic response and effective liaison with other police forces, we were able to quickly track the defendant and ensure he could be apprehended in order to protect the public.”

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