Gillingham stabbing: Sir Richard Sutton named as victim

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image captionSir Richard Sutton and his family's wealth was valued at £301m in the 2020 Sunday Times Rich List

One of the UK's richest men has been stabbed to death.

Sir Richard Sutton, 83, was pronounced dead at a his mansion near Gillingham, Dorset, at 21:15 BST on Wednesday. A woman, in her 60s and believed to be his partner, was also stabbed and remains in a critical condition.

The businessman and his family's wealth was valued at £301m in the 2020 Sunday Times Rich List.

A 34-year-old man, from Gillingham, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

He was stopped in a vehicle in the Hammersmith area of London and taken to hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.

Dorset Police said the arrested man and the victims were known to each other.

Sir Richard, who was number 435 in last year's Sunday Times Rich List, owned a string of top hotels.

The baronet had an extensive property and farming portfolio, including owning the freehold of the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane and the Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair.

image captionDorset Police said the victim and the arrested man were known to each other

A statement from the businessman's company, Sir Richard Sutton Limited, said staff were "deeply saddened and devastated by the sudden death".

"Sir Richard was a caring, generous and warm family man, who genuinely regarded those who worked for him as part of his extended family," it said.

It added he was "passionately devoted to both his company and its people, setting the highest standards for quality in the hotel, farming and property interests within the group".

Describing him as an an "incredible individual", the firm said Sir Richard's loss "will be felt by everyone within the company".

A cordon is in place at the property and police have appealed for information.

image captionA police cordon is still in place at the country estate in Gillingham

North Dorset Conservative MP Simon Hoare, who was a friend of Sir Richard, said he had received a briefing from Dorset Police and described the death as "deeply awful".

"I knew him, strangely enough I knew him before I was an MP as my company did a lot of work for his estate many years ago," he said.

"He was a charming man, he had a very good sense of humour, he was politically astute and genial.

"If you wanted to conjure up a picture of a country gentleman then that was him.

"It is a huge loss for his family in what is clearly deeply awful circumstances."

The MP added the incident was rare for his constituency and there was "no cause or reason for alarm" based on the police briefing.

image captionFlowers were laid at a police cordon

Dorset Police said it received a report at 19:30 on Wednesday raising concerns about the welfare of the occupants of an address in Higher Langham.

Det Insp Simon Huxter, of Dorset Police's Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT), said the force is appealing for anyone to come forward who saw or heard anything suspicious.

"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," he said.

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