Man convicted of 'Get Carter' killing blames Kray twins

The rich pickings offered by the thriving nightclubs and gaming tables of Newcastle upon Tyne in the mid-1960s were irresistible to Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford.

They were doing nicely working for one of the characters who installed fruit machines and booked cabaret acts until another employee, Angus Sibbett, started siphoning off £1,000 a week in takings. He wound up dead in the back of a Mk 10 Jaguar, his body riddled with bullets.

Mr Luvaglio, 69, and Mr Stafford, 71, were convicted of the "One-Armed Bandit Murder", made famous by Ted Lewis's book, Jack's Return Home. In 1971 it was turned into the gangster filmGet Carter, starring Michael Caine and Bryan Mosley (aka Alderman Alf Roberts in Coronation Street), who was bumped off by Caine in the film.

But though Get Carter has assigned the murder a place in history, the men convicted of it have always denied the crime and Mr Luvaglio's family publicly protested his innocence yesterday after he suffered a heart attack which is believed to have left him gravely ill at London's Westminster and Chelsea Hospital.

Through the family, Mr Luvaglio said he did not want to go to his grave with the crime on his name and insisted the Kray twins, widely believed to have failed to muscle in on the Newcastle scene, were responsible. Mr Luvaglio told his family the Krays wanted to take over Newcastle's social club business. He also maintained that fingerprints found in Mr Sibbett's car were neither his nor Mr Stafford's. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) began a review of the case last year.

Although Mr Luvaglio and Mr Stafford have denied the crime, the former has made few public pronouncements over the years. A relative, Vince Landa, ran the fruit machine business and tempted him from London to work with Mr Stafford. Mr Luvaglio became a prime suspect when, at 5.15am on 5 January 1967, a miner found Mr Sibbett's body in the Jaguar which his takings had enabled him to buy. He was arrested the next day.

The timing of the murder was an important part of the court case. Mr Luvaglio and Mr Stafford maintained they were at Newcastle's Birdcage Club at 12.30am on the night Mr Sibbett was shot, 16 miles away. Their alibis covered them for all but 45 minutes of the night.

But detectives reckoned it would have taken only 40 minutes to kill Mr Sibbett and drive to the Birdcage, in atrocious weather. Crash marks on Mr Sibbett's Mk 10 Jaguar corresponded to those on an E-Type Jaguar driven by Mr Stafford on the night of the murder. The men were convicted and sentenced to life.

Two appeals were turned down before both were freed in 1979 on licence. Mr Stafford has always maintained that Mr Sibbett was shot by a Scottish criminal. His licence was revoked after he breached its conditions by moving to South Africa. He returned to Britain in 1989 for a visit but was caught by a security check after booking into the same hotel as the visiting Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He remained in prison until 1998.

Mr Stafford, who lives in style at Stanhope Castle in Wearside, declined to comment. His solicitors believe the non-disclosure of evidence in the 1960s trials made it far harder to defend individuals such as Mr Luvaglio and Mr Stafford.

It is believed the CCRC will publish its findings in weeks rather than months.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine