Sussex

St Leonards man Craig Savage jailed for murdering wife and mother-in-law

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Media captionCraig Savage shot dead his ex-wife and her mother with a stolen rifle

A man who murdered his estranged wife and mother-in-law in an execution-style shooting has been jailed for a minimum of 38 years.

Craig Savage was found guilty of shooting Michelle Savage and Heather Whitbread at their East Sussex home, after a trial at Lewes Crown Court.

The former soldier, 35, shot Mrs Savage six times after she refused to reconcile with him, jurors heard.

Savage also shot Ms Whitbread seven times, and killed the family dog Zeus.

He had denied the murders but was found guilty by a jury, and jailed for life with a 38-year minimum term.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Craig Savage had denied two counts of murder but was convicted by a jury
Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption The gun used by Savage, which he stole from a firing range

Savage had claimed he tripped and the gun went off accidentally after a struggle with Mrs Savage, when he broke into the home in St Leonards on 16 March.

He said he did not intend to hurt his estranged wife but had planned to kidnap her and hoped police would shoot him dead in front of her.

Mrs Savage's sister Raven Whitbread, who was also in the house and seven months pregnant at the time, ran and phoned the police.

In the call played to the jury Ms Whitbread, 24, is heard to say: "My sister's crazy ex has just smashed through the window and is shooting."

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

Mrs Savage's 80-year-old grandmother Patricia Groves hid from the gunman and escaped unharmed.

The court heard how after their separation Savage, of no fixed address, uploaded revenge porn because his wife refused to have sex with him. He then poured paint over the family cars and slashed their tyres.

Savage, now a lorry driver, admitted stealing a semi-automatic rifle from a nearby firing range but was cleared of a charge of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Det Supt Stuart Hale said: "This was a horrendous crime. Craig Savage was controlling and bullying towards Michelle during their marriage and he could not accept that their relationship was over, when she finally found the courage to end it.

"We know that nothing can bring back Michelle and Heather, but I hope that today's conviction and the fact that Savage will spend many years in prison does give some justice to the family."

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