St Leonards woman '˜forever living in hell' after witnessing mum and sister's murders
A woman who witnessed her mother and sister being murdered has told a court the '˜cowardly actions' of Craig Savage have taken the '˜life and soul' from her family.
Raven Whitbread was eating a Chinese takeaway at home with her mother Heather Whitbread, 53, and her sister Michelle Savage, 32, on Friday, March 16, when Craig Savage broke into the house with a semi-automatic weapon he had stolen from a nearby shooting range.
On Monday, Savage was found guilty of both murders and jailed for a minimum of 38 years.
Ms Whitbread, who was seven months pregnant and in the house at the time of the shootings, testified during the trial.
After Savage was convicted, her victim impact statement was read to the court by prosecutor Benjamin Aina QC.
It read: “I lived with my mum and my sister – my two best friends.
“The two people I looked up to the most and I idealised.
“I was seven months pregnant at the time and I had already dealt with a months-worth of stress caused by Craig Savage and it was horrible seeing how this all was for my sister.
“We were looking forwards to a life without Craig and had made so many plans for the future.”
During the trial, Ms Whitbread said Savage had aimed his rifle at her before her mother shouted at him.
Ms Whitbread said Savage then pointed his rifle at her mother and fired.
In her statement, she said: “Both mum and Michelle had been so supportive and both would have been my birth partners.
“My mum was going to look after my baby so I could go to work. This would have been amazing for her as her other grandchildren have grown up further away from her.
“Because of what Craig did that night all of this was taken away. My daughter was brought into the world without her beautiful nan and her only auntie.
“Now they will both miss out on seeing her grow up. I had to endure the last two months of pregnancy without the support and assurance that my mum and Michelle would have provided me.
“I had to arrange their funerals and find money for both, and had to sort out their finances and affairs.
“I am so traumatised by what happened that there is no way I could ever live there again.
“I had to leave my job and find a situation where I will have to pay for living costs while looking after a baby full time.”
“The incident has had a huge impact on my relationship with Patrick who is now missing out on seeing his daughter as he has to live away from us for work. When I do see him I feel numb around him.
“The situation now means we cannot function as a family. I have no day to day support in raising my daughter.
“Michelle and mum were my support. They were who I would rely on, on days like this.
“I have mum’s dog with me now as well as my own. Even their behaviour has been affected by this.”
Ms Whitbread told the court she was protected by her mother and sister before she ran to an annex at the back of the property where her grandmother Patricia Groves was and called 999.
Both Ms Whitbread and Patricia Groves escaped from the house physically unharmed.
On Monday, Savage was given a life sentence with a minimum of 38 years before he is eligible for parole but Ms Whitbread told the court she is still concerned.
She added: “I am now living in constant fear for myself and my families’ lives especially if Craig is ever released from prison as I truly do not believe he sees any wrong in his actions and blames us for the break down of the relationship.
“I am and will forever be haunted by the events of that night. I will never forget what I saw. It feels like my life ended that night and I am forever living in hell.
“The cowardly actions of one man have taken the life and soul from our family and left an emptiness that can never be filled.”