Murderous rage of the jealous son that left a £300million baronet dead

Murderous rage of the jealous son that left a £300million baronet dead

December 17, 2021

Murderous rage of the jealous son that left a £300million baronet dead – and his mother maimed for life

  • Thomas Schreiber, 35, murdered Sir Richard Sutton, 83, and mother Anne, 66
  • He stabbed them in a frenzy on April 7 at Sutton’s £2 million Dorset estate 
  • He led police on a high-speed chase and begged to be killed as they arrested him
  • Schreiber later claimed he’d been overcome by ‘demons’ who ordered the attack
  • He was found guilty of murder and will likely receive life in prison on Monday 

The last evening Thomas Schreiber would spend with his mother Anne and her aristocratic partner, Sir Richard Sutton, began with a deceptively civilised air given the carnage to come.

Smart in shirt, cufflinks and Russell & Bromley boots, aspiring artist Schreiber, 35, put out champagne glasses and bowls of pistachios.

They would remain untouched in the frenzy of violence that seemingly erupted out of nowhere on April 7 at the country mansion of one of Britain’s wealthiest men.

First came a ‘commotion’ in the study of the £2million Dorset estate where police believe landowner, Sir Richard, 83, was attacked by Schreiber as he sat at his desk in his green leather swivel chair.

Minutes later, Anne, 66, turned from the kitchen sink to see her son – with a ‘wild’ and ‘determined’ look in his eyes – holding a 20cm knife from a block on the island.

‘Don’t be so silly,’ she said walking towards him. Then ‘What are you doing?’ as he plunged the blade into her. Police would later find one of those cufflinks on the blood-drenched stone floor where Anne fell with 15 stab wounds. She is now paralysed.

Thomas Schreiber pictured with his mother Anne, who was maimed by her son’s wild attack

Undated handout photo issued by Dorset Police of Thomas Schreiber who has been found guilty at Winchester Crown Court of the murder of millionaire hotelier Sir Richard Sutton and the attempted murder of his mother Anne Schreiber. Issue date: Friday December 17, 2021.

Schreiber’s bloody boot-prints would lead detectives upstairs where they found Sir Richard – who had managed to escape the initial onslaught – with appalling facial injuries and fatal stab wounds. One of the blows had pierced his heart.

Nearby, lay his broken walking stick. The top had snapped off in the kitchen ‘warzone’ as he’d tried in vain to save Anne. Defensive cuts to his hands showed how he’d tried to fend off Schreiber when he came to finish him off.

Missing from the garage was Sir Richard’s Range Rover, from which a fleeing Schreiber sent hysterical messages to family and friends, admitting to the attacks and threatening to commit suicide. Leading police on a high-speed chase from Higher Langham to London where he was finally outmanoeuvred, Schreiber tried to stab himself, then begged officers to kill him after being dragged from the car.

Schreiber would later claim he’d been overcome by ‘demons’, an alcohol-fuelled ‘madness’ – a voice in his head saying ‘attack, attack’ when all he’d wanted was ‘a hug’ from his mum.

But yesterday a jury at Winchester Crown Court rejected Schreiber’s plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to an ‘abnormality of mental function’.

Instead they found him guilty of murdering Sir Richard and attempting to murder his mother.

Undated family handout photo of Sir Richard Sutton and and Anne Schreiber

Damning messages he sent to worried friends in the nine months leading up to the stabbings, the court heard, spoke of a festering hatred for Sir Richard, who Schreiber called ‘a stupid old fool’, a ‘c***’ and his mother’s ‘bastard partner’.

As for his mother, Schreiber described her as ‘a psychotic, evil, selfish, gold-digging bitch c*** whore’. He spoke of his desire to ‘get a gun and shoot a bullet in my mum’s face and Richard’s.’

Restaurant supervisor Sathia Pagliuca, Schreiber’s girlfriend of six months, told the court she’d fled her flat, terrified, and dialled 999 when Schreiber begged to see her after transferring £30,000 to her bank account following the attacks.

Today the Mail can reveal the full story of the tragedy, triggered by the deep-rooted resentment Schreiber had nursed since the day his mother Anne and father David separated in 2002 when he was 16.

And how Sir Richard was so concerned by Schreiber’s increasingly ‘erratic’ behaviour during lockdown, he told his long-serving housekeeper he feared ‘something awful would happen’.

Which tragically it did, on the eighth anniversary of David Schreiber’s death, aged 73, just hours after the defendant laid daffodils on his late father’s grave at St Mary’s Church in Stalbridge, Dorset.

The killer had never forgiven his mother for ‘abandoning’ his alcoholic, bankrupt father and starting a relationship with their wealthy friend, Sir Richard, whom he accused of ‘buying’ the affections of his family.

‘Tom always thought the world of his father and I know that when David and Anne were separating, it was not the happiest time,’ Schreiber’s godmother, arts patron Isabel de Pelet, told the Mail. ‘Clearly, the shattering of the family unit had a profound effect on Tom. This has come as an awful shock. I remember Tom as a charming young man, I thought him incapable of killing anyone.’

Schreiber was so premature at birth that he ‘fitted in the palm of David’s hand’, Isabel recalls, growing into a sensitive child with a fighting spirit.

An ‘attractive blond little boy’, Anne told the court that she and David ‘oozed’ love on their son, spoiling him.

Even as a child, however, he had a ‘ferocious temperament’, lashing out at both parents – though she took the brunt of it.

File photo dated 08/04/21 of the late Sir Richard Sutton. Thomas Schreiber, of Gillingham, Dorset, who is accused of murdering the millionaire hotelier and paralysing his own mother told a psychiatrist that without lockdown the attack ‘wouldn’t have happened’, a court heard.

Over the years, family and friends would often have cause to wonder if Schreiber’s prematurity had left some lasting damage as he struggled through life, drifting from one job to another.

Certainly, he idolised his Wellington College educated father, who – born into a prominent military family originally from Suffolk – served as a cavalry officer in the Army before going to into business. Described as ‘theatrical’, locals remember David Schreiber as a popular bon vivant.

His first marriage, which produced three children, ended in divorce when, friends say, he fell for their nanny, Anne Thea Ramlaus-Hansen, who arrived from Denmark aged 18.

Fifteen years his junior, the couple wed in 1982 and went on to have daughters Louisa and Rose, followed by their only son Thomas.

By this time David, after working as a moderately successful art dealer in London, had set up a church candle business.

‘He was a charming fellow, but he was not a particularly good manager,’ said former business partner Michael Keane. ‘He liked a drop or two of the drink.’ David later worked as a writer and translator but his alcoholism sent his life into freefall and then bankruptcy.

Police on Chiswick High Road following a incident in which a vehicle was stopped at approximately 22:30hrs on Wednesday 07/04/2021. When police approached the vehicle, officers discovered the lone male occupant – later revealed to be Thomas Schreiber – had sustained a number of serious self-inflicted injuries.

His marriage to Anne – a physiotherapist described by friends as ‘determined and capable’ – came under strain and in 2002 hit crisis when they faced losing their Grade II listed farmhouse in Stalbridge.

Hearing of their problems, family friend Sir Richard came to the rescue with an act of generosity for which he would pay with his life.

Separated in 2000 from his wife Lady Fiamma, with whom he had two children, the aristocrat invited the Schreibers to move into his sprawling estate where he lived alone. His wife had returned to her native Italy and was in a new relationship.

Landowner and hotelier Sir Richard, who could trace his family tree back to Norman times, had a family fortune estimated at £300million and was described by those who knew him as the ‘perfect country gentleman’.

His property holdings included high-end London hotels, the Sheraton and Athenaeum, and 16,000 acres of land.

Schreiber’s sister Rose told the court: ‘Richard was incredibly generous, he lived in a huge house by himself and he said on more than one occasion he would have been very happy to have us all there together. My mother was incredibly cautious of (my father’s) deteriorating mental health and alcoholism and felt there was no way dad could move in to Moorhill if he was still drinking.

‘She didn’t want Richard’s generosity to be used. So she said to dad ‘You can only come with us if you stop drinking’ and he refused. He laughed at the notion, he laughed when Richard even offered to send him to rehabilitation.’

The break-up of the family, however, had a devastating effect on Schreiber who told the court it was ‘excruciating’ to see his father in ‘floods of tears, very upset’ during the ‘chaos’ as the family moved out of their home, leaving him behind.

While his sisters grew to love Sir Richard, Schreiber – as he witnessed his father’s further decline – grew to loathe him and his mother. A close friend of the Schreibers for more than 30 years says: ‘David and Anne were kind, generous and absolutely madly in love.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Thomas Schreiber (right) with his counsel, Joe Stone QC appearing at Winchester Crown Court, where he is on trial accused of the murder of Sir Richard Sutton and the attempted murder of his mother, and Sir Richard’s partner, Anne Schreiber, on April 7, 2021

‘I know they split up because of his drinking and the terrible pressures his bankruptcy brought. Anne didn’t go looking for anyone else, but you can understand why she would want to be with Sir Richard. He gave her financial security.

‘I’m convinced David carried on loving her and, Anne him, until the day he died,’ says the woman, who had a brief romance with David after his marriage break-up. ‘Tom was a very polite, pleasant young man, but I know he never forgave his mother for leaving his father.’

David Schreiber’s resentment over Anne’s developing romance with Sir Richard resulted in bitter letters to the family calling her a ‘gold digger’. His ‘toxicity,’ the court heard, transferred to his troubled son.

Nevertheless, Sir Richard showed compassion towards his old friend, offering David a bungalow on his estate in the final years of his life as his health worsened.

Rita Sherward-Hudson, Sir Richard’s housekeeper for 28 years, told the Mail: ‘Everything Sir Richard ever did was simply born of kindness. He tried to help Anne’s family and provided David with a roof over his head and let Anne nurse him when he was dying.

‘David’s behaviour and language when he was in drink could be horrible and I lost count of the number of times I had to help remove him from the house because he was drunk and abusive.’

There would be a terrible sense of history repeating itself when, depressed and unemployed, Thomas Schreiber accepted Sir Richard and Anne’s invitation to move into Moorhill in November 2019 for a three-month stay to help him back on his feet.

Over the years he had struggled to settle into a permanent career, holding more than 30 jobs including a spell in retail sales at London store Peter Jones. Family and friends had noticed a decline in his mental wellbeing after his return to the UK in early 2019 after two years drifting in Australia.

Moving into the spacious annexe over the garage in Sir Richard’s home, he bitterly resented being dependent on the baronet, who paid each of Anne’s children a £1,000-a-month allowance.

Relations were already strained when lockdown happened, trapping the three inhabitants in a ‘vicious triangle’ that would end in murder. As the weeks passed, Sir Richard became frustrated with their ‘lazy’, ungrateful guest.

Police footage of the high speed chase and arrest of Thomas Schreiber on 7th April 2021

Caroline Sutton, Sir Richard’s daughter, told the court her father wanted Schreiber to leave so badly he gave him £100,000 for a house deposit, but ‘Tom wouldn’t go’.

Violence erupted at Christmas 2019 after the whole family had spent the day at Wincanton races. Schreiber attacked Rose after she accused him of being selfish for not driving them home.

Sir Richard tried to intervene in the resulting ‘tussle’, taking a swing at Schreiber, which missed. Schreiber’s returning punch sent the baronet crashing to the ground, leaving him with a black eye.

In March 2020, Schreiber, who had his own issues with alcohol, agreed to attend a four-day residential therapy course to address his anger, but violence flared again in November that year, during a row with sister Louisa over who’d inherit a chandelier.

As the siblings traded slaps, Sir Richard delivered a hard rap across Schreiber’s back with his walking stick, which broke.

From this moment, the court heard, Schreiber grew ‘fixated’ with Sir Richard’s failure to apologise and obsessed with thoughts of revenge.

In January he messaged one friend: ‘to tell you the truth I actually want to murder… Richard and mother, it’s that bad. Everything is festering under the surface, eating away at me like a cancer….’

In March, to another friend, he wrote: ‘I’m so sad to report that my mind is consumed with hatred of the very worst kind towards my family… Simply put I contemplate murdering them all morning day and night….I want them to suffer.’

On Monday Schreiber will be sentenced to life in prison for acting on those wishes. 

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