Ex-soldier Craig Savage found guilty of murdering ex-wife and mother-in-law in gun attack

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

An ex-soldier has been jailed for life for murdering his ex-wife and mother-in-law in an execution-style shooting at almost point-blank range.

Craig Savage must serve a minimum of 38 years after a jury of 10 women and two men convicted him of two counts of murder after deliberating for less than three hours.

Michelle Savage (right) and her mother Heather Whitbread (left).

Savage denied setting out to kill his ex-wife Michelle and her mother Heather Whitbread at their home in St Leonards, East Sussex, on March 16.

Dressed in a blue suit and open-neck white shirt, the 35-year-old, now a lorry driver, showed no emotion when the verdicts were read out.

Police found the bodies of 32-year-old Mrs Savage, her dog Zeus and Mrs Whitbread, 53, after he stole a semi-automatic rifle from a nearby firing range.

Mrs Savage had been shot about six times and her mother around seven times.

The former soldier was obsessed with his wife and unleashed a vicious revenge campaign on her when she rejected him and refused to reconcile.

During his nine-year relationship with Michelle Savage, which included a five-year marriage, he was described as "controlling" with the "attitude of a teenager".

He hated her black-and-white Staffordshire Bull Terrier Zeus and was cruel to the animal.

It was the "last straw" for their marriage when her mother Heather Whitbread found him pinning the dog to the floor.

Mrs Savage ended the relationship around February 12 - just over a month before she died.

The gun Craig Savage used during the shooting. Credit: Sussex Police/PA

Savage told his trial he loved his ex-wife, was broken by their split and had planned to provoke police into fatally shooting him by kidnapping her.

Her pregnant sister Raven Whitbread, 24, and 80-year-old grandmother Patricia Groves hid and escaped unharmed during the murder.

Savage was acquitted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life after being accused of trying to fire at armed police officers who confronted him.

He admitted robbery at the beginning of the trial.