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Widow publishes Sunderland Echo journalist’s ‘labour of love’ on notorious murder

Maureen Lavelle, widow of Patrick Lavelle former Head of Content of the Sunderland Echo, with his book King of the North.
Patrick died aged 50 in 2010. He left instructions that this book about the shooting of Angus Sibbet in South Hetton, County Durham in 1967 should not be published until after the death of one of the individuals named in the book.

Maureen Lavelle, widow of Patrick Lavelle former Head of Content of the Sunderland Echo, with his book King of the North. Patrick died aged 50 in 2010. He left instructions that this book about the shooting of Angus Sibbet in South Hetton, County Durham in 1967 should not be published until after the death of one of the individuals named in the book.

A WIDOW has granted her husband’s dying wish to have his “labour of love” finally published.

Journalist and author Patrick Lavelle was writing King of the North right up until his death three years ago.

The former Sunderland Echo news editor had worked tirelessly and around the clock to complete the book despite being diagnosed with the cancer that went on to claim his life. Patrick was just 50 when he died.

The book centred on the shooting of Angus Sibbet in County Durham in 1967 which inspired the film Get Carter, starring Michael Caine.

Patrick, who had worked on local papers across the North East, became passionate about the story, spending years researching the crime and interviewing those involved.

At the time of his death, he was also involved in producing a film of the story, which is still in the pipeline.

Patrick’s widow, Maureen, 65, said: “I feel I’m finally able to slow down and relax now the book has been published.

“It was all that really kept Paddy going during those final months. He finished it at the beginning of March 2010 and died on March 22.

“I wanted to make sure it got published and now it finally is. It’s what he would have wanted and it’s so satisfying that it’s now out there. It’s got nothing to do with money, it’s just knowing that the book that was Paddy’s labour of love has been published.”

Sibbet’s associates Dennis Stafford and Michael Luvaglio both served 12 years of a life sentence for the murder. They have both continuously protested their innocence.

The killing, which became known as the one-armed bandit murder through its connection to the gaming industry and fruit machines, known colloquially as one-armed bandits.

The case was one of the most notorious killings in the North East and the first gangland killing, sparking fears that organised crime was gaining a foothold in the region.

Both men have always insisted on their innocence, with Stafford alleging the murder was committed by a Scottish gangster and Luvaglio alleging it was part of a failed attempt by the Krays to enter the Newcastle club scene.

Patrick travelled to Cannes and Toronto in the years before his death in a bid to secure funding to make a film of the book.

After his time at the Echo, Patrick worked as a lecturer at Sunderland University.

l King of the North is available from amazon.co.uk.

Twitter: @craigjourno

 

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