Sussex

St Leonards murder suspect 'wanted suicide by cop', jury told

Heather Whitbread (left) and Michelle Savage Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Heather Whitbread (left) and Michelle Savage were shot several times, jurors heard

A man accused of "executing" his estranged wife, mother-in-law and pet dog has told his trial they were shot accidentally as he failed an attempt at "suicide by cop".

Craig Savage, 35, denies murdering Michelle Savage and Heather Whitbread in St Leonards, East Sussex.

The former soldier is accused of firing at them in their home from close range with a stolen M4 semi-automatic rifle.

He also denies possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Mr Savage told Lewes Crown Court "it was my fault", but argued the two women were shot accidentally during a struggle.

"I just want to put everything straight then just lock me up," he sobbed.

Image caption Craig Savage denies two counts of murder

Mr Savage told jurors he was "losing it" over the break-up and was looking for a "way out" through police shooting him during a kidnap.

He went to the house in Bexhill Road on 16 March carrying body armour, which he claimed was for his estranged wife Ms Savage so she would not be harmed when police came.

He told the court: "Michelle came running at me like a rhino charging a red rag - bang straight into me, no hesitation, no fear.

"She came storming into me and smashed me, grabbed the rifle."

Five rounds went off, he said, before she fled to the hallway with him in pursuit where the struggle continued.

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Media captionCraig Savage was interviewed by police after the shootings

Mrs Savage, 32, was shot about six times and her mother, who was 53, about seven times, and the gun had been pressed close to them and fired in an "execution-type manner", prosecutors claim.

The lorry driver said he could not explain how his mother-in-law was shot, or how his wife had a bullet wound in her foot.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jurors heard the women were attacked in their St Leonards home

The jury was told Mrs Savage's grandmother and her younger, pregnant sister were hiding in the house and were not hurt.

Savage, of no fixed address, has admitted robbery after stealing the rifle with ammunition from a firing range.

The trial continues.

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