An aspiring painter accused of murdering one of Britain’s richest men sent voice notes to friends claiming he ‘had never had to work a day in his life’ because of his inherited wealth, a court heard today.
Thomas Schreiber, of Gillingham, Dorset, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the murder of 83-year-old Sir Richard Sutton and the attempted murder of his mother, Anne Schreiber, on April 7, 2021.
In voice notes allegedly sent by Schreiber to a friend in March this year, he can be heard describing Sir Richard, his mother’s partner as ‘horribly racist, horribly backwards’ and Mrs Schreiber as a ‘gold digging f****** b****’.
The 35-year-old has previously admitted the manslaughter of Sir Richard – his mother’s partner – and pleaded guilty to driving a Range Rover dangerously on the A303, A4 and M3.
Schreiber however told Winchester Crown Court today that he was ‘a peaceful man’ who had simply wanted to ‘hug her, not hurt her’, referring to his mother, Anne.
Thomas Schreiber, of Gillingham, Dorset, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the murder of 83-year-old Sir Richard Sutton and the attempted murder of his mother, Anne Schreiber (pictured with Thomas), on April 7, 2021
Sir Richard (pictured), an 83-year-old baronet who owned a string of hotels including the Sheraton Grand on London’s prestigious Park Lane, died in the knife attack in April
But, he then ‘snapped’ in an ‘uncontrollable explosion’ of violence when she likened him to his alcoholic late father, who had died on the day of the frenzied attack eight years before.
Sir Richard, a hotelier, had a knife plunged five inches into his heart while Mrs Schreiber, 66, was stabbed so many times during the ‘vicious assault’ at Sir Richard’s £2m country mansion that she was left paralysed from the neck down and breathing through a ventilator.
The ‘Moorhill’ estate in the hamlet of Higher Langham near Gillingham, Dorset, was left covered in blood and looking like a ‘warzone’.
Sir Richard died following the attack, which came after months of resentment at how he and Anne Schreiber had treated Schreiber’s father David following their divorce.
A series of voice note recordings were played to jurors in the courtroom in which Schreiber made several comments about his mother and her partner.
In November 2020, Schreiber sent a voice note to his friend Josh Adamson to say: ‘I heard [Sir Richard] on the phone slagging me off to whoever he was talking to… and he was going on about how I don’t want to work, I’ve never wanted to work, I’ve never wanted to have a job and how apparently in his eyes I’ve told him that I can’t work.
Police guard Sir Richard’s £2million property in the Dorset hamlet of Higher Langham in April
‘Which is complete nonsense, I’ve just explained to him that because of my neuro-diverse brain I’m less able to do most things and more able to do less things.
‘He was just slagging me off and slagging me off to his daughter… the irony of course is that he’s never actually had a job in his life, he’s inherited everything and his daughter’s never worked and his son’s never worked…. it’s all very poisonous here and it’s very hateful and horrible.’
In March 2021 he messaged a friend known only as Fedor: ‘The short story is, my mum is a gold digging f*****g b****, she is a selfish, manipulative, toxic, gold digging b****.
‘We moved here 17 years ago, this huge house, with her partner… she’s only there to cook for him and take his money.
‘He’s a multi multi-millionaire, he’s never had to work a day in his life, he inherited everything, all property, all land basically around the world. He’s an absolute c***.
‘He thinks that art and creativity isn’t work, he’s old-fashioned, thinks that the man should do all the work and women should never have to work.
‘He’s horribly racist, horribly backwards, horribly old-fashioned, horribly English… I don’t have a good word to say about him frankly and I can’t stand him.’
Sir Richard Sutton, pictured with his wife Lady Sutton and their children David and Caroline
Schreiber ended the note by saying that he may however be ‘a bit of a hypocrite’ because he was dependent upon Sir Richard’s money.
Today at Winchester Crown Court, Hants, Schreiber said he was ‘on edge but cheerful’ after drinking two or three double gin and tonics because ‘that day was a big day for me but I didn’t perceive it as a big day for mum and Richard and that made me a bit nervous’.
He said Sir Richard was showing him pictures of his father on a shooting trip to Lincolnshire before he ‘snapped’ when his mother said he was ‘drunk just like your father’.
Schreiber told jurors: ‘I think I said [to his mother] “Hello, how was your day?” and then I remember suggesting [having a toast to his father].
‘She didn’t even… I think she ignored the question and said “you’re drunk, you’re drunk just like your father” very high pitched… It was a snap remark.
‘I just went completely crazy, completely snapped and I just launched for her and started attacking her uncontrollably.’
He claimed it was ‘ridiculous’ that he’d wanted to kill his mother, adding: ‘We had some tricky times but I didn’t want to hurt her… she’s my mother, we were joined at the hip. I wanted to hug her.
‘I didn’t want to hurt her, I couldn’t physically stop, I couldn’t physically control myself.’
Adam Feest QC, prosecuting, said: ‘Are you seriously suggesting, with a knife in your hand, repeatedly stabbing her, that you didn’t want to hurt her?’
Schreiber replied: ‘I didn’t want to hurt her, it sounds crazy I know. I didn’t want to hurt my mum but I couldn’t physically stop what I was doing.
A jury has been shown footage released by the Metropolitan Police of Schreiber being chased at 135mph before armed police seized him
‘I’m not a monster, but right there I was a monster… I’m a peaceful man, a calm man, but there and then I was a monster.’
He added: ‘If I had gotten help, the help that I needed then none of this would have happened, if there was more communication between us siblings and as a family.
‘If I had possibly stopped being such a coward and stopped being so obnoxious and arrogant then I could have got more help and if I was more aware and less blind then that could have been a saviour for me.’
Schreiber said he was ‘incredibly paranoid’ and felt like a ‘scapegoat’ in his family and messaged friends about wanting revenge on his family as a ‘cry for help’.
He denied being angry when he stabbed his mother, adding: ‘What happened on 7th April was more than anger, it was an explosion, an uncontrollable explosion, a complete loss of control… that’s not who I am, that’s not me and I have been angry before but I have never lost it like that before.’
Schreiber said Moorhill was a ‘toxic environment’, adding: ‘I felt mum absolutely hated me and wanted me dead… I was convinced they all hated my guts.’
Schreiber claimed he picked up the knife when he heard a voice in his head saying ‘attack, attack’ after he ‘completely lost it’ when his mother branded him ‘drunk just like your father’.
Mrs Schreiber, the only living witness of the attack which left her paralysed and suffering from poor memory, said she remembered hearing a ‘kerfuffle’ which made her turn around to see her son walk into the kitchen and pick up the knife from a block on the kitchen island.
Speaking from Salisbury hospital’s spinal unit after the attack she said: ‘Thomas looked unusual… His eyes were quite weird… I would say almost frightening to look at because they looked terribly, terribly determined.’
The jury previously heard how Schreiber living with the couple at the sprawling country estate became a ‘vicious triangle’ as Sir Richard became ‘consumed’ with trying to get rid of the aspiring painter.
His daughter Caroline Sutton even revealed the hotelier paid Schreiber £100,000 for a house deposit in a desperate attempt to get him to leave his home.
Sir Richard, who last year was listed at number 435 in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated family fortune of £301 million, was killed following rows with Schreiber about the inheritance of a family chandelier and a day at the races.
The 83 year old owned a sprawling property empire and more than 7,000 acres of land, including the five-star Sheraton Grand on London’s Park Lane and the Athenaeum hotel in Mayfair.
Schreiber has admitted manslaughter over the hotelier’s death but denies murdering him. He pleads not guilty to the attempted murder of his mother.
He has also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on the night of the killing, after he fled in a Range Rover and was captured by police after a 135mph high speed chase from Wiltshire to London.
Sir Richard’s body was found on the landing, after he was initially attacked downstairs and limped upstairs where Schreiber is said to have stabbed him a further five times in the chest with a kitchen knife.
The prosecution say Schreiber repeatedly knifed his ‘toxic and gold digging’ mother and Sir Richard after fantasising for months about their murders.
Sir Richard had two children by his first wife Fiamma, and five grandchildren.
Mrs Schreiber, a Danish-born physiotherapist who has a practice in Milborne Port, Dorset, has three grown-up children including son Thomas.
The trial continues.