Millionaire hotelier killed by partner’s son over mother’s betrayal, court told

·6-min read

The son of Sir Richard Sutton’s partner killed the millionaire hotelier on the anniversary of his father’s death out of revenge for his mother’s “betrayal” and “gold-digging”, a court has heard.

Thomas Schreiber, of Gillingham, Dorset, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the murder of the 83-year-old baronet and attempted murder of his mother, Anne Schreiber, 66, on April 7 2021.

The 35-year-old has previously admitted the manslaughter of Sir Richard and pleaded guilty to driving a Range Rover dangerously on the A303, A4 and M3.

Sir Richard Sutton
Sir Richard Sutton owned a string of top hotels in London (PC Agency/PA)

Adam Feest QC, prosecuting, told the court that Ms Schreiber moved in with Sir Richard at his home, Moorhill, in Higher Langham, near Gillingham, Dorset, in 2003, after separating from David Schreiber, the father of the defendant, who died on April 7 2013.

He said the defendant, who has two sisters, Louisa Schreiber and Rose McCarthy, took his father’s side following the separation and “harboured a significant and sustained feeling of resentment towards both his mother and Sir Richard”.

Mr Feest added: “He clearly felt that he was treated differently by his mother and Sir Richard as compared to his two sisters, particularly with regards to financial arrangements.

“The persistence of these emotions, the hatred which they engendered towards Sir Richard and Anne in the mind of the defendant, and the spotlight which was cast on them by the defendant’s enforced presence at Moorhill during lockdown in early 2021, were all significant factors in the explosion of violence by the defendant which took place on the eighth anniversary of his father’s death.”

He said the defendant felt his sisters were treated more favourably by Sir Richard, including being given larger amounts for cars, and Schreiber had a feeling of being “picked on”.

Mr Feest said the animosity in the family broke out into violence, firstly at Christmas 2019 during a trip to the Wincanton races.

He described how a “tussle” broke out between the defendant and his sister, Ms McCarthy, after he refused to drive, which culminated in Sir Richard intervening by taking a swing at him but missing, with Schreiber retaliating by hitting him in the face.

Adam Schreiber, who has the same father – David Schreiber – with the defendant but not the same mother, told the court that his stepbrother had never got over the death of their father.

He said that their father’s drinking problem and depression worsened after separating from Anne Schreiber and added that the defendant believed she had left him for a “more comfortable life”.

He said the defendant remained loyal to their father after he split from the defendant’s mother which put “considerable strain” on his relationship with his mother and sisters.

Mr Schreiber said: “He didn’t like the fact his parents were splitting up, he didn’t like the fact Anne had moved in with Richard. He did say it was all about the money.

“I would say he took my father’s side, I think he would argue that they hadn’t been particularly nice to my father and that made my father going down and being more depressed in later years.”

cordon at the junction of Moor Lane and Langham Lane in Gillingham, Dorset during the investigation
A police officer at the cordon at the junction of Moor Lane and Langham Lane in Gillingham, Dorset during the investigation (PA)

Louisa Schreiber, the defendant’s sister, said her brother resented that their mother and Sir Richard did not do more to help their father.

She said: “I think Tom was frustrated with Sir Richard, the father figure, the big house, the status he had, Tom felt it was unfair that maybe there could have been more help for Dad, there was a bit of resentment there.”

Ms Schreiber 40, added: “He seemed to become a bit withdrawn, at times I felt he became very depressed, sometimes very dark, at times he could be joyful and charming but those times were becoming less.”

Ms Schreiber described how a fight broke out at Christmas 2018 between the defendant and their sister, Rose McCarthy, following a trip to the races at Wincanton.

She said the argument started after Schreiber refused to drive at the request of Ms McCarthy and progressed to her brother attacking her sister and putting his “hands around her neck”.

She said: “There was a lot of shouting, Richard tried to hit Tom and swung for him, wobbled and missed, Tom hit him back and Richard fell to the floor.”

Ms Shreiber said that her brother underwent anger counselling after this incident.

Ms Schreiber said another argument descended into violence in November 2020 after the defendant became angry when their mother offered her a chandelier for her home.

She described how he began saying “hurtful” things about her including that “all I do is take, take take” and “how I took from Dad”.

She added: “I launched forward and slapped him round the face, I said, ‘stop saying things, these things aren’t true.”

The court heard Sir Richard intervened by hitting her brother over the back with his walking stick, breaking the stick, before Schreiber punched him back in the face.

She said: “He kept saying that ‘It’s not me, she’s mental, I’m not the mental one, she is’, I remember he said that.”

She said that afterwards, their mother told her brother he should move out, but she said that this did not happen.

The court was shown a message sent by the defendant to Ms Schreiber which read: “Thanks for beating me up last night Lou, you got away with that one didn’t you.

“Everyone on your side as always despite you being the one throwing punches, scratching my face and loosing (sic) it, not me.”

Joseph Hughes, the partner of Louisa Schreiber, said the defendant had spoken to him of the family issues and said he felt “unfairly treated”.

He said: “It was about how his mother left his father and joined Sir Richard and the family background and how the dynamic worked and he felt his father was treated badly.

“I thought there was a lot angst, I was surprised at how much anger there was towards his mother and Sir Richard.”

Joe Stone QC, defending Schreiber, told the jury that the defendant denies the murder of Sir Richard saying that he was of a diminished state of mind at the time or that he experienced a “loss of control”.

He also denies the attempted murder of his mother, saying that he did not intend to kill her, Mr Stone said.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.