A man who launched a sustained knife attack on his mother and her partner, the tycoon Sir Richard Sutton, led police on a 135mph car chase before officers carried out a “hard stop” on a London street and Tasered him as he stabbed himself, a murder trial has heard.
Thomas Schreiber, 35, who killed Sutton and seriously injured his mother, Anne Schreiber, on the anniversary of his own father’s death, claimed he snapped after laying out some pistachio nuts and putting champagne on ice to share with his mother and Sutton, and argued that “demons” rather than himself were to blame.
Schreiber has admitted manslaughter of Sutton, 83, a hotelier and landowner, but denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility or loss of control.
He also pleads not guilty to the attempted murder of his mother and is to argue that long-running family tensions and the stress of the Covid lockdown contributed to his state of mind, the jury at Winchester crown court heard.
Adam Feest QC, prosecuting, told the jury that the initial attack on Sutton on 7 April at his Dorset mansion may have taken place in his study and begun with him being hit with a glass vase. The prosecution alleges Sutton and Anne Schreiber, 66, were then attacked in the kitchen.
Sutton managed to get up to his bedroom and Feest claimed there was a “significant pause” before Schreiber went upstairs and carried out a “second and distinct” attack. One knife thrust pierced his heart to a depth of 12cm and he suffered “catastrophic internal bleeding”.
Feest said two knives were used by Schreiber in the attacks, one 20cm long and the other 21cm. Forensic examinations suggested Schreiber paused to wash himself and one of the knives.
He changed his clothes and grabbed a suitcase that had been packed for a trip and his two passports, a British and Danish one, the court heard. Feest claimed this indicated a “clear thought process … a clear desire to escape”.
The alarm was raised and police chased Schreiber, who was in Sutton’s Range Rover, for about 70 miles at up to 135mph before the “hard stop” took place on Chiswick High Road. Schreiber began stabbing himself with a third knife but suffered only superficial injuries.
When talking with a mental health nurse later that evening, he said he was suffering from a mental health issue that was making him feel suicidal, that he had demons in his life , an alcohol problem and there were tensions at home.
During a psychiatric assessment the defendant told a doctor: “I was drunk and just snapped.” When he was being booked into a police station in Dorset he said to an officer: “It’s all very regrettable now” and during an interview he said he loved his mother and Sutton.
A few weeks later, he phoned his sister, Louisa Schreiber, from prison and told her it had been complete madness and he had lost control. He added that it wasn’t him that day, but “fucking demons”.
He said he had wanted to have a drink with his mum and Sutton and had put out pistachios and some champagne. He said he just completely snapped. “There was a knife on the island,” he added, “and I couldn’t stop”.
Louisa Schreiber, told the court her brother believed his mother and Sutton had abandoned his father, who died after suffering severe drink problems including liver damage and Korsakoff syndrome, a chronic memory disorder.
She said: “Tom felt frustrated at Sir Richard – the father figure, the big house, the status that he had – I think Tom felt it was very unfair that they couldn’t have been more help to dad.”
Opening the defence case, Joe Stone QC, said family dynamics, Schreiber’s mental health and the lockdown had all played a part. He asked the jury to circle the date of the attack and told them the fact that it was the anniversary of the death of his father, David, was “significant”.
The trial continues.