Sir Richard Sutton: Man accused of hotelier’s murder tells court he ‘snapped’ when drunk

·4-min read
Sir Richard Sutton, who owned a string of top hotels in London, was killed at his home in Dorset in April 2021 (Family handout/PA)
Sir Richard Sutton, who owned a string of top hotels in London, was killed at his home in Dorset in April 2021 (Family handout/PA)

A man “snapped” while drunk before repeatedly stabbing his mother and her millionaire partner, a court has heard.

Thomas Schreiber, a 35-year-old from Dorset, is on trial at Winchester crown court over the incident on 7 April that coincided with the eighth anniversary of his own father’s death.

He is accused of murdering aristocrat, hotelier and landowner Sir Richard Sutton, 83, and attempting to murder his mother Anne Schreiber, 66.

The defendant denies both charges of murder and attempted murder, but has admitted to manslaughter of Sir Richard, and pleaded guilty to driving a Range Rover dangerously on the A303, A4 and M3.

Mr Schreiber had led police on a 135mph chase to London before he pleaded with officers to shoot him after the Range Rover he was driving was stopped, the court heard.

Prosecuting barrister Adam Feest QC told the court on Wednesday that, after the attack, Mr Schreiber triggered an ANPR camera while driving Sir Richard’s car on the A303 near Stonehenge.

The high-speed chase only halted when officers performed a “hard stop” on the vehicle in Chiswick, west London.

Mr Feest told the court: “Once the Range Rover had been forced to stop, the defendant remained in the driver’s seat but appeared to be stabbing himself with a knife.

“In order to prevent further injury to him, the police tasered him, making him drop the knife.

“They then quickly dragged him out of the vehicle and restrained him.”

Mr Feest said the defendant shouted to police: “Shoot me, I don’t want to live.”

He said Mr Schreiber admitted to medics that he had stabbed his mother and Sir Richard, saying: “I was drunk and just snapped.”

Mr Feest said that Mr Schreiber later told police that “he loves his mother and Sir Richard and although the break-up of his parents’ marriage made him feel not great, you have to move on”.

It also emerged that, in a phone call from prison to his sister Louisa, Schreiber said that “it had been complete madness, he had lost control, it wasn’t him but... demons”.

Mr Feest said that a post-mortem examination of Sir Richard’s body and an investigation of the “extensively blood-stained scene” suggested that he was attacked downstairs in the house.

He then managed to go upstairs, possibly to make an emergency call, where, after a “pause” in the violence, he was attacked again and died.

The examination by Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue found that the injuries suffered by Sir Richard included three deep wounds to his face as well as five chest stab wounds up to 12cm deep.

Sir Richard also suffered wounds to his hands and arms. Mr Feest said this indicated that the victim was “capable of attempting vigorously to ward off or gain possession of a sharp-edged weapon being wielded against him by the defendant.”

Ms Schreiber was found by police severely injured in the kitchen of the property in Higher Langham, Dorset.

Mr Feest said: “She recalls that the defendant lifted the knife up and must have stabbed her, although she does not recall actually being stabbed but does remember looking at the knife in her and being surprised that it did not hurt more, and saying something like ‘what are you doing?’

“Anne described this experience as feeling like a bystander looking through a window. At some point she recalled that Sir Richard came in to the room shouting and screaming.

“This appeared to make the defendant more agitated and he stabbed his mother again.

“Anne could not recall what happened to Sir Richard after that, but does remember the defendant going behind her and stabbing her in the back. That was the last thing she knew.”

Ms Schreiber suffered up to 15 stab wounds to the back of her head, arm, chest, neck, shoulder and back.

Mr Feest said: “Of most significance, one had caused a partial transection of the spinal cord and it is this injury which led to the most serious and ongoing physical consequences.”

On Tuesday, the court was told Ms Schreiber remains in hospital seven months after her son repeatedly stabbed her with a kitchen knife that she has said was about 15cm long.

The prosecutor said she recalled that her son’s eyes looked “terribly, terribly determined” and described him as looking “very, very unusual, very, very out of control”.

The court was told that Ms Schreiber would not have survived the attack if it had it not been for the help of police and paramedics at the scene.

Jurors heard the defendant sent voice messages to friends and siblings after the incident apologising and saying he had killed his mother and Sir Richard.

The court heard that the defendant had unstable relationships with his siblings, his mother, and her partner after his parents separated in the early 2000s.

Mr Schreiber felt he was treated differently by his mother and Sir Richard compared to his sisters, the prosecutor said.

The trial continues.

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