The partner of a multi-millionaire landowner and hotelier was left paralysed from the neck down after her son launched a prolonged knife attack on them both, a murder trial has heard.
Anne Schreiber, 66, survived the attack by her son Thomas Schreiber, an aspiring painter, but suffered damage to her spinal cord while her partner, Sir Richard Sutton, 83, died after being stabbed repeatedly.
Thomas Schreiber, 35, wept in the dock on Thursday as an emotional phone call he made to his older sister, Louisa Schreiber, while he was in prison on remand was played to the jury at Winchester crown court.
He begged her not to hang up and said he wanted to hear how his mother was doing. He expressed his regret, saying: “I’m so sorry, it’s completely fucking madness … I’m waking up every day hoping to wake up from this nightmare … I completely lost control.”
Louisa Schreiber, 40, told her brother: “She’s paralysed, Tom … from the neck down … she’s on a ventilator … I don’t know what the future holds for her. She’s got a spinal cord injury in her neck … She’s survived, against all the odds, but it’s whether she will ever move.”
Schreiber, who accepts he attacked his mother and Sutton on the anniversary of his own father’s death at Moorhill, the mansion he shared with them in Dorset, said he could not understand why she could not move. His sister told him: “Because she’s had a knife go into her neck.”
She added there was a “possibility” that their mother would not be able to breathe without a ventilator for the rest of her life. Schreiber said: “I just completely lost it. That wasn’t me there that day … It was someone else, it was like a demon.”
The phone call took place 20 days after the 7 April attack. The prosecution has previously described Anne Schreiber’s injuries as life-changing.
Schreiber’s defence team has told the jury he denies murdering Sutton on the grounds of diminished responsibility or loss of control, claiming that long-running family tensions, the loss of his father, David, exactly eight years before the attack, and the stress of the Covid lockdowns contributed to his disturbed state of mind. He also denies the attempted murder of his mother.
Schreiber’s other sister, Rose McCarthy, 36, told the court tensions grew as Sutton became frustrated at the “audacity” of the jobless Schreiber for taking handouts, including an allowance of £1,000 a month, while still criticising him and his mother.
McCarthy said the relationship between Schreiber, his mother and her partner became a “vicious triangle” with the millionaire “consumed” with “the Tom issue”.
She said: “Tom always wanted to know where Mum was going, who she was seeing, what she was doing. He was very controlling of her.”
The witness said Sutton found it very very difficult to understand Schreiber’s position in the house and what motivated him. “Tom was living in the house, he didn’t have a job, he didn’t sign on.”
“I think it became obvious to the family that it became a vicious triangle, the three of them living at Moorhill.”
The trial continues.