** This story was amended on 10 April 2021 to add new details reported in the English press **
One of England’s richest men has been stabbed to death. Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, an 83-year-old Baronet, was murdered on the evening of Wednesday 7th April in his countryside mansion. His life partner, who is in her 60s, was also seriously injured. His suspected killer is his 34 -year-old stepson, who was living with him. The suspect is in police custody.
The murder took place on the Wiltshire-Dorset border in the heart of rural Southern England. The crime was committed in Dorest and the suspect fled along the A303, the main West-East road through Wiltshire. He was apprehended by Police over 100 miles away in Chiswick, an area on the western side of London.
Murder at Moorhill
Sir Richard Sutton bought the Moorhill country estate, a sprawling two-storey rural property surrounded by farmers’ fields, in 2014 for £1.4 million (approximately 1.9 million USD). This was ‘pocket change’ for Sutton, who was worth an estimated £301 million (413 million USD). The Sutton family owns close to 7,000 acres (over 10 square miles) of land across the United Kingdom and Sir Richard’s company, Settled Estates, owns some of London’s top hotels including the Sheraton Grand where art-deco suites cost up to £1,500 (2,000 UDS) per night.
Sir Richard’s countryside residence, known as Moorhill, is located in Higher Langham, a tiny village about two-and-a-half miles west of the town of Gillingham, Dorset. The property is quite remote and isolated, with a long driveway.
The Police arrived at Moorhill after having received a call from a concerned member of the public at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 7th April. They found Sir Richard dying from multiple injuries inflicted with a knife. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9.15 pm.
Sir Richard’s partner, who is in her 60s, had also been attacked. She was taken by air ambulance to Southmead Hospital in the city of Bristol 45 miles away. On Saturday 10th April her condition was still ‘critical.’
Suspect flees the scene
The suspect fled the crime scene by car. He would have driven north along tiny country lanes before joining the bigger A303 road via which you can drive west across Wiltshire, passing Stonehenge, before joining the M3 motorway to London.
Police tracked the suspect’s black Range Rover for over 100 miles across the English counties of Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey before his vehicle was forcibly stopped by the Metropolitan Police on Chiswick High Road, West London at about 10.30 pm. Based on the journey time, this means the suspect fled the crime scene around 8.30 pm and so had been on the road for around 45 minutes before Sir Richard was pronounced dead. The suspect left the victim fatally injured but alive, and the victim’s wife critically injured.
Surrounded by four police cars, with their lights flashings and sirens wailing the suspect was removed from his vehicle after it had apparently violently collided with another car, a black 4X4 BMW. The suspect was held down on the pavement by up to seven police officers wearing stabproof vests. He received medical attention at the scene and was then taken to hospital for treatment for self-inflicted injuries that were not life-threatening. He was released from hospital on April 9th. He has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Photographs taken at the spot where the suspect was apprehended show a pair of jeans, a pair of brown boots, a small knife, and an old-style EU-British passport left behind on the pavement.
Locals in shock
Local paper, The Dorset Echo, reported how Sir Richard’s neighbours in Higher Langham responded to unfolding events: “It is just awful”, commented one neighbour. “You would never imagine something like this could happen. They are lovely people.”
Another neighbour, who had worked for Sir Richard, told The Sun that she knew “instantly” something “awful” had happened to him when she saw police activity at his house: “We watched from the upstairs bedroom…and I knew it was something really bad. I went up there (to Moorhill) but the police wouldn’t tell me anything.”
Higher Langham is home to only about 200 people and Sir Richard did not mix much with the locals.
The Member of Parliament for North Dorest, Simon Hoare, who knew Sir Richard, commented to the Echo that “This is not the sort of thing you expect to see happening in North Dorset.” He described the multi-millionaire murder victim as: "a charming man” with “a very good sense of humour”: “If you wanted to conjure up a picture of a country gentleman then that was him.”
A woman who worked for Sir Richard’s company, Sir Richard Sutton Limited, told The Sun: “What’s happened is worse than anything on Midsomer Murders. It’s an absolute tragedy.”
Dorset Police are appealing for witnesses. On the 8th of April, they were conducting a forensic examination of the crime scene.
Details about the suspect’s movements on the day of the murder emerge
On Saturday 10 April — with this shocking story superseded by the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on April 9 which has grabbed all the front pages — details emerged in the English tabloid press that the murder suspect visited his father’s grave in the small town of Stalbridge, Dorset the afternoon before the deadly knife attack. The suspect’s father’s date of death was 7 April 2013 so the murder of Sir Richard, the suspect’s step-father, took place on this anniversary.