ONE of Britain’s richest men was found stabbed to death in his Dorset country mansion.

Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, an 83-year-old Baronet, was attacked inside his £2m home in north Dorset on Wednesday night.

A woman also suffered knife injuries in the incident that happened at Moorhill, a large detached property in the tiny hamlet of Higher Langham, near Gillingham.

Police received a call from a member of the public concerned for the welfare of the occupants of the house.

When they got there they found Sir Richard with fatal knife wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9.15pm.

The woman, who is aged in her 60s, was airlifted to the Southmead Hospital in Bristol. Her condition was today described as ‘critical’.

Immediate police investigations identified a Range Rover linked to the attacks that was spotted travelling eastbound on the A303.

It was tracked by police as it sped across Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey before it was stopped in Hammersmith, west London.

A 34-year-old man from the Gillingham area was arrested on suspicion of murder.

He was subsequently taken to hospital for treatment to injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

Police have confirmed the arrested man is known to the victims.

Sir Richard was described as an ‘old English gentry landowner’ who was worth an estimated £301m and was at number 435 on the Sunday Times Rich List.

Bournemouth Echo: Sir Richard Lexington Sutton. Picture: Sir Richard Sutton LtdSir Richard Lexington Sutton. Picture: Sir Richard Sutton Ltd

He owned a huge portfolio of hotels, property and farms across the country.

A spokesman for the Sir Richard Sutton Limited (SRSL) 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.”

Sir Richard bought the Moorhill country estate in 2014 for £1.4m.

Today, three police vans were seen at the entrance to a long drive which leads to the remote property, while forensics officers were observed inside.

Bournemouth Echo: A police cordon at the site near Gillingham. Picture: Graham Hunt/BNPSA police cordon at the site near Gillingham. Picture: Graham Hunt/BNPS

A neighbour said: “The Suttons live there.

“They have two grown up children and grandchildren.

“It is just awful. You would never imagine something like this could happen.

“They are lovely people.”

A local farmer said: “I saw a search helicopter with a spotlight overhead last night and then an air ambulance landed.

“The people who live there is an old English gentry landowner and his wife.”

Another neighbour said they were aware of police helicopters flying over the house for a number of hours.

Their family has been informed and the Dorset coroner has been notified of the death.

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 enquiries. Officers can be approached by members of the public with any information or concerns.”

Bournemouth Echo: Police at the scene. Picture: Graham Hunt/BNPSPolice at the scene. Picture: Graham Hunt/BNPS

Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, 9th Baronet, was head of the Sutton family, which owns land in Dorset, Berkshire, London and Lincolnshire and Aberdeenshire.

He inherited his title and estate from his father in 1981 and was worth an estimated £301m in May 2020, placing him 435th on the Sunday Times’ Rich List.

In total he and his family own close to 7,000 acres of land across the UK - more than double the amount owned by the MoD.