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Steven Morris @stevenmorris20
Fri 17 Dec 2021 14.11 GMT
An aspiring artist has been found guilty of murdering one of the UK’s wealthiest landowners and attempting to murder his own mother while being locked down with them at their Dorset mansion because of Covid.
Thomas Schreiber, 35, attacked Sir Richard Sutton, 83, in his study and followed the multimillionaire upstairs to deliver the fatal blows as he tried to call for help.
Schreiber repeatedly stabbed his mother, Anne Schreiber, 66, in the kitchen, injuring her so badly that she remains in hospital eight months later and is unlikely to walk again.
A jury at Winchester crown court heard Schreiber’s mental health deteriorated in the weeks before the frenetic knife attack, which took place on the eighth anniversary of the death of his father, David Schreiber.
Wearing a blue suit and tie with a pink shirt, Schreiber closed his eyes as the verdict was announced. A cry of “yes” could be heard from the public gallery, where some members of Sutton’s family were sitting. Anne Schreiber watched by video link from hospital.
Adjourning the case for sentencing on Monday, the judge, Mr Justice Garnham, told Schreiber: “The only sentence I can pass is of life imprisonment but for the offence of murder I have to set the minimum number of years and I also have to sentence you for the attempted murder of your mother.”
Outside court, DI Simon Huxter, of Dorset police, said: “This violent attack happened in the family home and this case is another sad reminder of the often tragic consequences of domestic abuse, which can take many forms. This was an utterly tragic and senseless incident.”
He praised the police officers and medics who saved Anne Schreiber’s life. “It was thanks to the efforts of the first officers to arrive at the scene and subsequent medical assistance from paramedics and hospital staff that this case only involved one fatality and not two. While Anne sadly suffered serious life-changing injuries, the outcome could have been even worse.”
Schreiber was deeply affected by his father’s death and felt hatred for Sutton and his “gold-digging” mother after she set up home with the landowner. He resented Sutton’s huge wealth, even though he took generous handouts from him, and felt he and his mother did not take his art seriously.
The idea of taking “revenge” on the couple built up when Schreiber, who had flitted from job to job throughout his adult life, was locked down with them during the Covid pandemic.
After the attack on 7 April, Schreiber took Sutton’s Range Rover and led police on a high-speed chase before officers carried out a “hard stop” in west London and shot him with a stun gun as he stabbed himself.
Schreiber admitted killing Sutton but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility and pleaded not guilty to attempting to murder his mother. Schreiber claimed a voice in his head shouted “attack, attack, attack” and he could not stop stabbing the couple.
The jury was told he had a history of major depressive disorder and alcohol misuse. It was also possible he may have had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which can lead to impulsive actions.
He had struggled with low self-esteem since he was a teenager and was deeply affected by the “complete hell” of his parents’ separation, believing his father, whom he doted on, had been badly treated. He told a psychiatrist that lockdown had been a “full frontal attack” on his mental health.
Following Schreiber’s conviction, Sutton’s family said in a statement: “How could any family recover from such a sudden and devastating loss. We can never bring back Sir Richard but his spirit will very much live on, alongside the very happy memories we have of our incredible father, brother and grandfather. His values of being warm, generous and compassionate to everyone he met will be carried forward by future generations, and will never be extinguished.”
How alcohol and seething resentment turned Thomas Schreiber to murder — (The Guardian)
Steven Morris @stevenmorris20
Smouldering buildup to attack on Sir Richard Sutton and Anne Schreiber began in Schreiber’s teenage years
As the day wore on, Schreiber left his makeshift studio in the snooker room at Moorhill, the Dorset mansion he was sharing with his mother, Anne Schreiber, and her partner, the wealthy landowner and hotelier Sir Richard Sutton, and appeared in their part of the house.
The mood was horribly tense. For almost 20 years since his parents split and Anne moved in with Sutton, Schreiber had seethed at the relationship. He felt the couple had neglected his late father, David, and believed his sisters, Rose and Louisa, were the favourites.
Schreiber also resented his reliance on Sutton’s money – he had never settled on a “proper” career – and believed his family did not take his art seriously. To make an ugly situation worse, the three had been locked down together during the Covid pandemic. Schreiber felt trapped, later telling a psychiatrist that lockdown was a “full frontal” attack on his mental health.
Quite what ignited the explosion of violence may never be known. Anne Schreiber has fleeting memories, Sutton did not live to tell the tale and the account Schreiber gave cannot be trusted.
But piecing together the evidence of blood stains, trails and broken glass, the best bet is that a drunken Schreiber attacked Sutton in his study, glassing him the face with a whisky tumbler.
He then went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed his mother repeatedly. She was so brutalised that she looked as if she had been in a road crash and was left paralysed. Sutton tried to raise the alarm but Schreiber pursued him upstairs, where he finished him off.
The smouldering buildup to the attack appears to have begun in Schreiber’s teenage years when his family lived in a farmhouse in the Dorset village of Stalbridge Weston, nine miles from Moorhill. Anne Schreiber is a physiotherapist originally from Denmark, and her ex-husband David was a translator.
At about the same time, Sutton’s relationship with his wife, Lady Fiamma Sutton, broke down. The Sutton family, whose ancestry can be traced to the time of William the Conquerer, is hugely rich, owning thousands of acres of farmland in the UK and the US as well as London hotels including The Athenaeum.
The Schreibers and Suttons were friends but Thomas was taken aback when his mother revealed that she – and her children – were to move into Sutton’s mansion. “I didn’t know what was going on,” Schreiber said. “I didn’t know if my mother was in love with this man.”
Schreiber did not stick around. In his late teens he went to school and college in Denmark before studying music technology in London. He DJ’d and collected vinyl records, flitting from job to job in the capital.
Back in Dorset, David Schreiber’s drinking worsened. Sutton suggested he could move into Moorhill if he agreed to go into rehab. David refused and in 2013 died, suffering from a chronic memory disorder caused by his alcohol misuse.
Schreiber felt Sutton and the rest of his family had not done enough for his father. His hatred and jealousy deepened, though Sutton was generous, giving him £100,000 and a £1,000-a-month allowance, hoping this would help him become independent.
In 2016, Schreiber moved to Australia with his then girlfriend but they split up and in January 2019 he was back in the UK and moved into Moorhill. He was supposed to spend only a few weeks there but became a permanent, angry fixture.
In March 2019, he went to see a therapist, who found him a deeply hurt man, a “lost child” who felt abandoned by his parents and financially imprisoned by Sutton, his problems exacerbated by alcohol.
Schreiber began to tell friends that he planned to take revenge on Sutton and his “gold-digging” mother. By the start of 2021, he was thinking about murder day and night. “I want them to suffer,” he said.
In the witness box during his trial, Schreiber claimed that on 7 April a voice told him: “Attack, attack, attack.” Afterwards, Schreiber jumped into Sutton’s Range Rover. He rang friends and family to tell them he planned to take his own life. Instead he drove to London, chased by the police at speeds of up to 135mph, until officers carried out a “hard stop”. When armed police smashed their way into Moorhill they found the bloodbath he had left behind.