Murdered baronet, 83, named stepson who killed him in his £34m will

Baronet, 83, who was stabbed to death by his stepson in horrific knife frenzy at £2M country mansion was planning to leave the killer part of his £34M fortune

  • Thomas Schreiber, 35, plunged kitchen knife into the heart of Sir Richard Sutton
  • He brutally stabbed his mother Anne, 66, leaving her paralysed from neck down
  • Trial heard how row over inheritance of chandelier sparked his hatred for couple
  • New documents reveal he was in line to receive ‘unspecified amount’ of fortune 

A jobless painter who murdered his 83-year-old Baronet stepfather was set to inherit part of his £34million fortune, it has been revealed. 

Thomas Schreiber, 35, stabbed Sir Richard Sutton to death at his £2million country home in Dorset during a murderous spree on April 7 last year. 

He had been living there rent free, along with his mother Anne, 66, who he also tried to kill in a frenzied stabbing attack, leaving her paralysed from the neck down. 

A heated row in November 2020 over the inheritance of a chandelier – in which Sir Richard hit Schreiber with a walking stick – was said to have acted as a catalyst which sparked Schreiber’s killer motives. 

At trial at Winchester Crown Court, the jury heard how he began to scour the internet for articles about revenge after becoming ‘consumed with hatred’ following the argument. 

It came after Sir Richard had reportedly given Schreiber a £1,000 monthly allowance and offered him a £100,000 deposit for a house. 

Now, a little over a year after the killing, unearthed legal documents show the ungrateful killer was also named as a beneficiary in his victim’s will. 

But the Forfeiture Act 1982 – which prohibits people from benefiting from their crimes – means he will get nothing. 

Thomas Schreiber (pictured), 35, stabbed Sir Richard Sutton to death at his £2million country home in Dorset during a murderous spree on April 7 last year.

Schreiber lived with the couple (pictured, Sir Richard) at the baronet’s Dorset mansion rent free following his mother’s divorce from his alcoholic father David

An aerial view of Sir Richard’s estate about three miles away from Gillingham in Dorset, which was left to Anne Schreiber 

Sir Richard also owned the luxury Athenaeum Hotel and Spa in London’s Piccadilly (pictured)

A family photo of Sir Richard Sutton and and Anne Schreiber is pictured before he was murdered

Sir Richard Sutton: Baronet and hotelier with 7,000 acres of land and a £301million fortune  

Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, 83, was estimated to be worth £301million in 2020 and owns around 7,000 acres of land across the UK. 

He is a baronet, a hereditary honour awarded by the monarch. It is the lowest-ranking hereditary title, but baronets are able to use the prefix ‘sir’.

The Sutton Baronetcy of Norwood Park in the County of Nottingham, dates back to October 1772.

It was created by King George III for politician Richard Sutton. He was the second surviving son of the distinguished diplomat Sir Robert Sutton. 

The latter was the grandson of Henry Sutton, brother of Robert Sutton, 1st Baron Lexinton. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the family seat was at Benham Place. However, the house was sold in 1982.

Sir Richard became the ninth baronet of Norwood Park, Nottingham, in 1981, after inheriting the title from his father. 

Sir Richard was listed at number 435 in The Sunday Times Rich List in 2020 with an estimated family fortune of £301 million – a rise of £83 million on the previous year. 

He owned the Sheraton Grand on London’s prestigious Park Lane and the Athenaeum in Piccadilly, in addition to other hotels in Bath, Cheltenham and Windsor, and land in Dorset, Berkshire, London, Lincolnshire and Aberdeenshire, and several farming and property businesses.

His landholdings include the Benham Estate in West Berkshire and the Stainton Estate in Lincolnshire. 

Details of Sir Richard’s estate, published yesterday, showed he had planned to leave an ‘unspecified amount’ of his £34million fortune to his killer, reports the Express. 

The Baronet left the Moorhill estate in Gillingham, which would be the scene of his murder, to Mrs Schreiber. 

Sir Richard was the ninth baronet of the Sutton family, which can be traced back to William the Conqueror, who invaded Britain in 1066.  

His successful hotel empire included the Sheraton Grand Park Lane and the Athenaeum.

After ‘sponging’ off Sir Richard Sutton for years, Schreiber stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife in a frenzied attack which left the hotelier in a pool of blood.

He was also convicted of attempting to murder his mother Anne, who he stabbed at least nine times in the neck and back.

He is now serving a minimum sentence of 36 years behind bars.  

Schreiber lived with the couple at the mansion following his mother’s divorce from his alcoholic father David. 

But despite this, the court heard how he resented them for abandoning his father, who died in 2013.

On the eighth anniversary of the death of Schreiber’s father, Sir Richard had a knife plunged 12cm into his heart while Mrs Schreiber was repeatedly stabbed.

The ‘Moorhill’ estate in the hamlet of Higher Langham near Gillingham, Dorset, was left looking like a ‘warzone’ following the murderous rampage.

The Sutton family released a statement after the verdict, which read: ‘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.’

At Winchester Crown Court in Hampshire a jury dismissed Schreiber’s defence he was suffering from a mental disorder which meant he was not in control on the night of the killing.

After four hours and 18 minutes deliberating, they were unable to come to a unanimous decision and were asked to return a majority verdict.

Just 33 minutes later, they found Schreiber guilty of the murder of Sir Richard and the attempted murder of Mrs Schreiber by a margin of 11 to one.

The killer, wearing a blue suit and pink shirt, stared down at the ground in the dock, as the verdicts were read out.

A whispered cry of ‘yes’ was heard from the public gallery above, where Sir Richard’s children Caroline and David Sutton, as well as other members of the family, were sat.

During the 14-day trial, 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’.

Thomas Schreiber (pictured above), 35, was detained by armed police in Chiswick, West London, after Sir Richard, 83, was killed at his north Dorset home

But Mrs Schreiber, the only living witness of the attack which left her paralysed and suffering from poor memory, said she was in a ‘good mood’ and was cooking in the kitchen when she heard a ‘kerfuffle’ which made her turn around to see her son walk in and pick up the knife from a block on the kitchen island.

Speaking from Salisbury Hospital’s spinal unit after the attack, she told police: ‘Thomas looked unusual… His eyes were quite weird… I would say almost frightening to look at because they looked terribly, terribly determined.

‘I received some stabs from him and I remember looking at the knife in me and being surprised that it didn’t hurt more.

‘Then I believe – I may be wrong – but I believe Richard comes in to the kitchen from his other living room shouting and screaming.

‘He was definitely alive then because I did see him… I 100 per cent believe he was alive then.

‘I remember seeing him at least making an entrance, talking in a loud voice. I don’t know what happened to Richard.

‘You want the truth and honestly I can’t say that I saw Richard being stabbed by Thomas but I know I am [being stabbed] that’s for sure.’

Forfeiture law means killers like Thomas Schreiber cannot benefit from their crimes 

The Forfeiture Rule is a law which prevents a criminal from benefitting from their crime in any way. 

So, for example, if someone unlawfully kills another person, they would not then be entitled to benefit in any way from the death of their victim. 

This means, much like Thomas Schreiber, who stabbed his millionaire stepfather to death, they would forfeit any inheritance they had previously been entitled to, either under the terms of the Will or the Rules of Intestacy.

This law has been established primarily to prevent convicted murderers from being able to inherit from their victim’s Estate, and the rule is clear in how it is applied in such situations. 

If one person murders another then they should not be able to inherit anything from them, regardless of the circumstances.

What’s more, if a property is owned jointly as joint tenants, then if one owner murders the other they will not then be able to take sole ownership of the property. This differs to the usual rules applied to property owned as joint tenants if one owner dies. In normal circumstances, when one joint owner of a property dies, the property would automatically transfer into the sole ownership of the surviving joint owner, regardless of what the Will states.

When a person is convicted of manslaughter, the law states that they should not benefit from their crime, unless it would be unfair or unjust to deprive them of a benefit they stand to receive. All the circumstances surrounding the case will need to be considered in order for the judge to make a decision on this. If there has been no conviction at all, then the Court may use their discretion to determine whether to waiver the Forfeiture Rule. 

Source:  Co-op legal

Mrs Schreiber was found barely breathing in the kitchen by armed police but Sir Richard had managed to limp upstairs, trying to set off an alarm and call the police along the way, before Schreiber picked up a second knife, hunted him down and stabbed him a further five times.

His body was found on the upstairs landing, with blood splashed across the wall in front of him.

The court heard Schreiber then fled the scene in Sir Richard’s Range Rover, leading police on a 135mph chase from Wiltshire to London where he was finally apprehended by officers.

After he was forced to stop he began to stab himself with a third knife he had grabbed from the mansion before his escape but he was stunned by a taser to prevent him from killing himself.

The jury 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.

In November 2020, Sir Richard hit Schreiber on the back with a walking stick following a heated family row over the inheritance of a chandelier.

This row, the court heard, isolated Schreiber from his family and was a ‘watershed moment’ in his relationship with them.

He began obsessively scouring the internet for articles about revenge and became ‘consumed with hatred’ towards his mother and Sir Richard.

The jury heard how Schreiber told friends he was planning revenge and wanted to ‘go out with a bang’ just months before the killing.

In March 2021 he wrote to his best friend James Reid: ‘Simply put I contemplate murdering them all morning day and night. It’s not what I want to think about but it’s the truth. I want them to suffer.’

He added: ‘I think and strategise every single day about how best to murder my mother and co… that’s how bad my mind is at.’

He also told his friend Fedor: ‘The short story is, my mum is a gold digging f***ing 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’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.

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