Convicted killer's appeal over '˜Get Carter' murder rejected

A new bid to challenge a 1967 conviction for a murder that inspired the classic crime thriller Get Carter has been rejected by the High Court.

Wednesday, 22nd February 2017, 9:12 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:50 am
Convicted killer Michael Luvaglio, who maintains his innocence.

For over 50 years one of the convicted men, Michael Luvaglio, has been fighting to prove his innocence.

Now nearly 80 and living in west London, he listened as a senior judge rejected his latest application - this time a bid to challenge a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) refusal in January to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal.

His lawyers argued fresh evidence pointing to the convictions being unsafe had been rejected irrationally or unreasonably by the Commission.

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Mr Justice Langstaff, sitting in London, refused Luvaglio permission to seek a judicial review saying: “I do not see any realistic prospect of this challenge to the Commission’s decision succeeding.”

Luvaglio later expressed his disappointment, saying: “I am innocent and don’t deserve to die as a legally convicted murderer.”

Luvaglio and co-accused Dennis Stafford were both found guilty at Newcastle Assizes of the shooting murder of money collector Angus Sibbett.

Sibbett was found dead in the back seat of his Jaguar under Pesspool Bridge, South Hetton, County Durham, with three gunshot wounds in January 1967.

Both men always protested their innocence.

The judge said: “This case has on a number of occasions trod the boards from the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords (formerly the highest court in the land) to the Court of Appeal on a number of occasions.”

It had also been referred on more than one occasion to the CCRC.

The judge said of Luvaglio: “Despite his age and age of the case he has never given up trying to show his conviction was unlawful.”

Stafford and Luvaglio each served 12 years of their life sentences before being released on licence.

The murder of Mr Sibbett, who collected cash from fruit machines in Newcastle, laid the foundation for the novel Jack’s Return Home, by Ted Lewis, later made into 1970s cult film Get Carter, starring Michael Caine.

The case became known as the One-Armed Bandit Murder because of its connection to the gaming industry and the supply of fruit machines, referred to as one-armed bandits, to social clubs.

It involved one of the biggest trials in the North East and gave rise to fears that organised crime was gaining a foothold in the area.

Since the murder, appeal after appeal has been accompanied by books questioning Stafford and Luvaglio’s guilt. The case has also been the subject of TV shows and questions asked in the Commons.