Man accused of killing millionaire hotelier Sir Richard Sutton links attack to lockdown, court told

16 December 2021 by
Man accused of killing millionaire hotelier Sir Richard Sutton links attack to lockdown, court told

A man accused of murdering millionaire hotelier Sir Richard Sutton (pictured) and paralysing his own mother told a psychiatrist that without lockdown the attack "wouldn't have happened", a court has heard.

Thomas Schreiber, of Gillingham, Dorset, is accused at Winchester Crown Court of the murder of the 83-year-old baronet and the attempted murder of his mother Anne Schreiber on 7 April 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, which he shared with the Schreiber family – with the defendant living in an annexe – following the separation of the defendant's parents.

The court has heard the defendant had been unhappy at his mother becoming the partner of Sir Richard, calling her a "gold-digging bitch" and Schreiber felt unfairly treated financially compared to his two sisters.

The defendant has told the court that he felt a "loss of control" and he "could not physically stop" the knife attack on his mother and Sir Richard.

Defence witness, consultant psychiatrist Dr Tim Rogers, told the court that the defendant's history of mental ill health contributed to a "significant impairment of rational thought".

He said Schreiber had a "major depressive disorder" which would have been worsened by family arguments and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said that depression can lead to "cycles of negative thoughts" that could increase the chances of the defendant suffering "anger and irritability".

Dr Rogers said: "He was using coping mechanisms like meeting friends, then [because of] the effects of the pandemic those coping mechanisms were no longer there.

"He was isolated and essentially locked in this annexe in the middle of these family problems, it's reasonable this had an effect on his mental health."

He added that drinking alcohol and the fact it was the anniversary of the death of the defendant's father, David Schreiber, could also have been contributing factors to the impairment of his mental state.

Giving evidence to the trial, Schreiber had described hearing a voice saying "attack, attack, attack", but Dr Rogers said although the defendant had "intrusive thoughts", he described them as his "own thoughts".

Dr Rogers added that the defendant had not described experiencing hallucinations or paranoia and did not have symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Psychiatrist Dr John Sandford, called by the prosecution, said he did not consider that the defendant suffered from a major depressive disorder.

He said that the defendant had been given anti-depressants while living in Australia in 2017 but he had never been referred to a secondary service such as a consultant or a community mental health nurse.

He added that the defendant had visited his GP in March 2021 showing symptoms of "mixed anxiety".

He said that the defendant told him: "I am 150% certain if there hadn't been a lockdown, it wouldn't have happened".

Dr Sandford said: "My headline conclusion is he doesn't suffer from a mental disorder, there is no evidence that he has a severe mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, there is no evidence of that at all.

"He was a little bit of a lost soul, he had anger and resentment about his childhood that had never been resolved – he was unhappy but he didn't have a mental disorder.

"He has a history of poor anger control and aggression within his family, it's a possibility drink is a significant factor in this."

Schreiber denies murder and attempted murder and the trial continues.

Sir Richard's company owns London hotels the Sheraton Grand Park Lane and the Athenaeum.

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