Anne Schreiber describes her son Thomas’s actions and character to the court from a Salisbury spinal unit
The partner of a multimillionaire who was left paralysed when her son stabbed her repeatedly has described the moment she turned from the kitchen sink to find him brandishing a knife in front of her as if they were in a crime film.
Giving evidence from a spinal unit, Anne Schreiber said her son, Thomas Schreiber, looked like a wild-eyed stranger as he assaulted her at the mansion she shared with Sir Richard Sutton, who was killed in the attack.
Anne Schreiber told the jury at Winchester crown court that her son had always had a temper and once strangled her. She said she suffered nightmares about Thomas since the attack in April.
Schreiber has admitted killing landowner and hotelier Sutton, 83, but denies murdering him and attempting to murder his 66-year-old mother. The court has been told that the attack took place on the anniversary of his father’s death at a time when family tensions had been exacerbated by Covid lockdowns.
Anne Schreiber’s evidence mainly took the form of a video recorded from the spinal unit of a hospital in Salisbury. She sat in a wheelchair, a blanket over her knees. She switched tenses when talking about the attack and struggled for some words. She was given a drink through a straw and sometimes had trouble breathing.
Schreiber, 35, watched from the dock, his head bowed for minutes at a time. He wiped his nose at one point but did not appear to shed a tear.
Anne Schreiber said her only memory of the day – 7 April – was the attack. She was listening to music and possibly singing along. She heard a “kerfuffle” and turned to find Schreiber standing there.
“He looked unusual,” she said. “His eyes are … almost frightening. They looked terribly determined. I see a knife. He didn’t look as if he was going to help me peel potatoes.
“He was definitely not himself; the man who came into my kitchen could have been a total stranger. The eyes were wild, his face was screwed up. He looked … very out of control.”
She said he held the knife in a “threatening manner … like in crime films”, continuing: “I believe he stabbed me. I remember looking at the knife in me and being surprised that it doesn’t hurt more. I remember me saying: ‘What are you doing?’”
Anne Schreiber said she felt like a bystander looking through the window “as if it wasn’t really me there”. She believed the weapon was a “nice and sharp” knife from a block in the kitchen used to cut meat or vegetables.
Anne Schreiber said she had “awful nightmares”. “Thomas is very much part of them,” she added.
She said she wondered where she had gone wrong and felt she had failed Schreiber, but added: “I always think I have given Tom an enormous amount of love.”
She said he was a very attractive boy with blond hair but had a “furious” temper and could be very aggressive, especially to her. “I did seem to take the brunt.”
She said he adored his late father, David, but found it difficult to channel his anger. “When it comes to Tom, it always ends in fisticuffs. He had a tendency to lash out.”
Schreiber said her son tried to strangle her as they returned from a party in a car. She just waited until it ended. “It jolly well hurts when he puts his hand round your throat,” she said.
The trial continues.