The partner of a multimillionaire who was left paralysed when her son stabbed her repeatedly has described the moment she turned from the kitchen sink to find him brandishing a knife in front of her as if they were in a crime film.
Giving evidence from a spinal unit, Anne Schreiber said her son, Thomas Schreiber, looked like a wild-eyed stranger as he assaulted her at the mansion she shared with Sir Richard Sutton, who was killed in the attack.
Anne Schreiber told the jury at Winchester crown court that her son had always had a temper and once strangled her. She said she suffered nightmares about Thomas since the attack in April.
Schreiber has admitted killing landowner and hotelier Sutton, 83, but denies murdering him and attempting to murder his 66-year-old mother. The court has been told that the attack took place on the anniversary of his father’s death at a time when family tensions had been exacerbated by Covid lockdowns.
Anne Schreiber’s evidence mainly took the form of a video recorded from the spinal unit of a hospital in Salisbury.
She said her only memory of the day – 7 April – was the attack. She was listening to music and possibly singing along. She heard a “kerfuffle” and turned to find Schreiber standing there.
“He looked unusual,” she said. “His eyes are … almost frightening. They looked terribly determined. I see a knife. He didn’t look as if he was going to help me peel potatoes.
“He was definitely not himself; the man who came into my kitchen could have been a total stranger. The eyes were wild, his face was screwed up. He looked … very out of control.”
Anne Schreiber, who now uses a wheelchair, said her son held the knife in a “threatening manner … like in crime films”, continuing: “I believe he stabbed me. I remember looking at the knife in me and being surprised that it doesn’t hurt more. I remember me saying: ‘What are you doing?’”
She said she felt like a bystander looking through the window “as if it wasn’t really me there”. She believed the weapon was a “nice and sharp” knife from a block in the kitchen used to cut meat or vegetables.
She added she had “awful nightmares”. “Thomas is very much part of them,” she added.
“I have some awful nightmares relating to this time. I was trapped and he was my captor but they are not real.”
She said she wondered where she had gone wrong and felt she had failed Schreiber, but added: “I always think I have given Tom an enormous amount of love.”
She said he was a very attractive boy with blond hair but had a “furious” temper and could be very aggressive, especially to her. “I did seem to take the brunt.”
She said he adored his late father, David, but found it difficult to channel his anger. “When it comes to Tom, it always ends in fisticuffs. He had a tendency to lash out.”
She said: “David didn’t fail him, he spoiled him a terrible amount, and so did I, but with the love oozing on to him.”
Schreiber said her son tried to strangle her in 2019 as they returned from a party in a car. She just waited until it ended. “It jolly well hurts when he puts his hand round your throat,” she said.
Cross-examined by her son’s barrister, Joe Stone QC, via video link from hospital, Anne Schreiber said she recalled her son saying to her “You’re a gold-digging bitch” in the lead-up to the attack and conceded she might have told him he was drunk and acting like his father, who was an alcoholic.
When asked about the 2019 incident in which she claimed her son strangled her, she said she could not now recall if he had actually strangled her.
The trial continues.