Hit-man given life for murder 26 years ago

Jason Bennetto,Crime Correspondent
Saturday 01 March 2003 01:00

The contract killer of a newsagent was jailed for life yesterday, 26 years after the murder.

Allan Savage, 72, confessed last year, in response to an emotional appeal on television by the dead man's daughter. Savage, of Hastings, East Sussex, who has bladder cancer, told police he was hired by the son of a woman with whom Geoffrey Small had been having an affair. The court was told that although Savage, a small- time crook, had been promised £2,000, he received only £700.

Mr Small, who was 46 and married with two children, was found shot at his shop in Sutton, south London, in September 1976.

Sitting at the Old Bailey, Judge Stephens told Savage, grey haired and frail: "It took 26 years for you to face up to what you had done. This was a cold-blooded murder carried out for gain. You laid in wait in the shadows for your helpless victim, shooting him – no fewer than four bullets hitting him."

Crispin Aylett, for the prosecution, said Mr Small had been having an affair with Jane Ward, a married woman with two sons.

Years later, police were told Savage had confessed to the killing and reopened the file. After arranging to interview him, they placed Cathy Small, the dead man's daughter, on BBC1's Crimewatch UK to talk about her father's death.

* Robert Ward, 47, is also to be tried for the murder of Mr Small in September. He has denied the offence.