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Mother of murder accused still has nightmares about her son’s attack, court told

·6 min read

The mother of the man accused of the murder of millionaire hotelier Sir Richard Sutton has told a court that she still suffers nightmares about her son’s attack, which left her paralysed.

Thomas Schreiber, of Gillingham, Dorset, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the murder of the 83-year-old baronet, and attempted murder of his mother Anne Schreiber, on April 7, 2021.

The 35-year-old has previously admitted the manslaughter of Sir Richard, and pleaded guilty to driving a Range Rover dangerously on the A303, A4 and M3.

The attack happened at Sir Richard’s Moorhill estate near Gillingham, Dorset, which he shared with the Schreiber family following the separation of the defendant’s parents.

Anne Schreiber was paralysed in the attack and remains in hospital seven months later.

In a video interview shown to the court, recorded at Salisbury Hospital on June 29, 2021, the 66-year-old is sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a pink top and grey scarf, holding a pillow.

She told the court that she had returned from the supermarket at about 6pm and had just fed the dogs in the kitchen, when her son came in and attacked her with a “nice and sharp” kitchen knife.

She said: “I am quite happy, possibly singing a little tune, but I am in a good mood when Tom comes in to the kitchen.

“Tom comes into the kitchen. Tom looks unusual, I think that is the best description, his eyes are quite, weird is not the word, almost frightening look, because they look terribly, terribly determined.

“I say ‘What’s the matter?’ or ‘Are you all right?’, and I see a knife and I remember saying ‘Don’t be so silly’, because he gives me an indication.”

She added: “He stood with his knife, he certainly didn’t look like he was going to help me peel potatoes, let’s put it that way, it was definitely a threatening posture.”

Sir Richard Sutton
Sir Richard Sutton died in the incident in April (PC Agency/PA)

Ms Schreiber continued: “I believe that he stabbed me, I received some stab wounds from him and I remember looking at the knife in me and being surprised that it doesn’t hurt.

“I am also remembering me saying ‘What are you doing?’ or something ridiculous like that, and being very surprised that it doesn’t hurt more.

“Then I believe, I may be wrong, that Richard comes in from the other living room, shouting and screaming, he was definitely alive because I did see him.”

She added: “I remember him stabbing me again and then I do not know what happens to Richard.

“I honestly can’t say that I have seen Richard being stabbed by Tom, but I know I am, that’s for sure.

“He also goes behind me towards the island, and I do believe he stabs me on the back at that time, and I am afraid that is as far as my memory goes.”

The defendant sat with his head facing down for much of his mother’s evidence, looking up occasionally at the screen.

She continued: “He was definitely not himself, I would swear on oath that the man who came in my kitchen could have been a total stranger, he looked not out of normal but unusual, because I was shocked when I saw him.

“His eyes were very unusual, his face was screwed up in an extraordinary grimace, he looked very, very out of control.”

She added: “I have some awful nightmares relating to this time, in my head, but they are not real so I can’t use them – I was trapped and he was my captor but they are not real.”

Describing her son, Ms Schreiber said: “He is always a person, I wonder where have I gone wrong, also in some ways I have failed him.

“David didn’t fail him, he spoiled him a terrible amount, and so did I, but with the love oozing on to him and having two older siblings.

“It’s very difficult when you talk about bringing up children, it’s almost as if I have given Tom an enormous amount of love, and I certainly loved him, I have spoilt him.

Richard Sutton death
A police officer at the cordon outside the property in Gillingham, Dorset (PA)

“He was a very attractive little boy with blond hair, he had a furious temperament.

“He can be very aggressive, especially towards me, I did seem to take the brunt, I couldn’t get away with very much before he jumped on me.

“He was also very aggressive towards his beloved dad, David, who he absolutely adored.”

Ms Schreiber said the defendant had strangled her while driving home from a party, about two years earlier.

She said: “I didn’t retaliate at all, I just waited until it was all over, he can then turn round and be as good as gold, it’s a weird combination, he jolly well knows when he has his hands round your throat though.”

Giving evidence by live video-link from hospital, Ms Schreiber, sitting in a wheelchair, her head leaning to one side, said her son had been “very strongly” affected by the death of his father and had never come to terms with it.

She said the defendant was not happy when she moved in with Sir Richard in 2003, and added: “He found it difficult, Thomas didn’t like my friend and lover Richard Sutton to be part of his life, on the other hand he didn’t like his father to be there either.”

She added he would have preferred to have stayed living in their previous home.

When questioned by Joe Stone QC, representing the defendant, Ms Schreiber said she remembered her son saying to her “You’re a gold-digging bitch”, but said she did not recall him saying: “I’m not f****** drunk.”

Mr Stone asked her if she remembered Sir Richard trying to stop her son, to which she said she did.

Describing her son’s face during the attack, she said he looked out of control because of the expression of his eyes.

She said: “I know my son extremely well, that man who appears in the room, I could hardly recognise him, he was so withdrawn, and the grimaces on his face, he looked very torn on his face.

“His eyes were very wild looking.”

Ms Schreiber said her son had become “furious” after Sir Richard had hit him with his walking stick during a family argument in November 2020.

When asked about the incident which she described in her video interview of her son strangling her in the car in the summer of 2019, she said she could not recall if he had actually strangled her and added: “If he did, he didn’t mean to strangle me.”

The defendant denies murder and attempted murder and the trial continues.

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