A suspect has been arrested in a police swoop about 160km from a country mansion where one of Britain’s richest men, hotelier Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, was stabbed to death.
Sir Richard, 83, worth an estimated $540 million, was fatally attacked while his wife Anne Schreiber, 65, also suffered knife wounds and was left in a “critical” condition in hospital, reports The Sun.
Three hours after the shocking killing in Dorset, southwest England, police deployed a dramatic “hard stop” 160km away in West London to pull over a Range Rover it had been tracking across five counties.
A 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and police later confirmed he was known to the victim.
The Sun understands he was living with the couple.
He was taken to hospital with injuries which were not believed to be life-threatening.
‘Absolute tragedy’ as hotelier found dead
Sir Richard, a baronet described as “a charming country gentleman”, owned a huge portfolio of property across the UK, including two Park Lane hotels.
A woman who worked for Sir Richard Sutton Limited told The Sun: “What’s happened is worse than anything on Midsomer Murders. It’s an absolute tragedy.”
On Wednesday evening police raced to the estate in the tiny hamlet of Higher Langham, near Gillingham, Dorset, after a call from a concerned member of the public.
They found Sir Richard with fatal knife wounds and he was later pronounced dead at the scene.
His injuries were reportedly so bad that police officers initially believed he had been shot, according to The Times.
The hotelier’s Danish second wife Anne, a physiotherapist, was flown to hospital in Bristol.
Police operation across five counties to catch suspect
Meanwhile, the suspect had fled, triggering a police operation involving six forces.
The car was tracked after it left Dorset then sped across Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey.
Helicopters were also scrambled as the car made its way at high speed towards London.
A team of crack SCO19 firearms officers in an armed response vehicle then moved in on it at 10.30pm in Hammersmith, West London.
They swung in front of the Range Rover, forcing it to stop.
When officers pulled the driver from the vehicle, they had to carry out immediate first aid on him and an ambulance was called.
The Met Police said: “When they approached the vehicle, officers discovered that the lone male occupant had sustained a number of serious injuries.”
Dorset Police said the man was known to the victims.
Witness Maureen Kane, 50, who was at home when the incident occurred, claims up to 40 “armed” police officers swarmed the area.
Maureen said: “I just heard a loud screech of cars swerving and then crash sounds.
“Then I looked out of my window and saw lots of armed police jumping on top of a car and aiming guns at a man and all around his car.
“He was a white male in his 30s and seemed to be injured – it looked pretty bad – but I’m not sure if he was injured in a crash,” she said.
“I was scared as I thought it was a terrorist and there were so many police officer with guns.
“About 10 policemen surrounded him until an ambulance arrived.”
Another witness told MailOnline: “They cut his clothes off, his shirt and trousers, and then wrapped him in a silver foil wrap as they administered first aid.
“The ambulances showed up a short while later.
‘The paramedics took over the medical treatment.
“The driver of the Range Rover appeared to be conscious as the officers were talking to him and I could see him move slightly.
“After maybe an hour to 90 minutes he was placed on a stretcher with an oxygen mask over his mouth and placed in the back of one of the ambulances.
“I could see a senior officer briefing his officers afterwards. I heard him say ‘five stab wounds’ which I took to be the injuries of the driver they’d stopped.”
Sprawling country empire owned by stabbing victim
Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, 9th Baronet, was head of the Sutton family, owning around 2800 hectares of land across Dorset, Berkshire, London, Lincolnshire and Aberdeenshire.
He inherited his title and estate in 1981 and was 435th on the Sunday Times’ Rich List.
Ms Schreiber is believed to have three children – two daughters and one son – and runs The London Road clinic in Sherborne, Dorset, which provides osteopathy, physiotherapy and counselling.
Sir Richard married his first wife Fiamma Sutton in 1959 before they divorced. They had two children, David, 61, and Caroline, 55, and five grandchildren.
The Moorhill country estate in Dorset was bought by Sir Richard in 2014 for £1.4 million ($A2.5 million).
He has owned a huge portfolio of property, farms and hotels across the country, including the five-star Sheraton Grand on London’s swanky Park Lane and the Athenaeum in Mayfair.
One local resident said Sir Richard was a long-term resident of Higher Langham, but “was a private person who did not engage much” with the tiny community of around 200 people.
A spokesman for Sir Richard Sutton Limited said today: “We are deeply saddened and devastated by the sudden death of Sir Richard Sutton, announced this morning.
“Sir Richard was a caring, generous and warm family man, who genuinely regarded those who worked for him as part of his extended family.
“Sir Richard was passionately devoted to both his company and its people, setting the highest and standards for quality in the hotels, farming and property interests within the group.
“His loss will be felt by everyone within the company, those who worked with him, and his family who have lost an incredible individual.
“Our thoughts are with the Sutton family at this tragic time.”
Today three police vans were seen at the entrance to a long drive that which leads to the remote property, while forensics officers were observed inside.
Detective Inspector Simon Huxter, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the man who sadly died and the injured woman at this extremely difficult time and they are being supported by specially trained officers.
“We will be carrying out a full investigation to establish exactly what happened at the address in Higher Langham and I would appeal to anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area on the evening of April 7 to please contact us.”
“A cordon remains in place at the address and there will continue to be a heavy police presence in the vicinity as we carry out inquiries.”
This story was originally published on The Sun and is republished with permission