CRASH experts are reinvestigating evidence from one of the North East’s most notorious gangland-style shootings.
Today marks the 45th anniversary of what became known as the One Armed Bandit murder, and the two men convicted of the killing are still fighting to clear their names.
Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford have continued to deny killing business associate Angus Sibbett, whose bullet-ridden body was found slumped in his Mark X Jaguar under Pesspool Bridge, South Hetton, on January 5, 1967.
Now solicitors working for the pair have called in crash investigators to reinvestigate prosecution evidence from the vehicles allegedly involved in the killing.
Mr Luvaglio said prosecutors pinned their case on evidence which suggested Stafford and Luvaglio had forced Sibbett off the road by swerving in front of them in an E-Type Jaguar, forcing him to crash into the back of the sports car.
But the 75-year-old, who now lives in London, said a crash expert had found photographs of the vehicles in the police yard showed inconsistencies.
He said: “If you look at the picture of the Mark X under Pesspool Bridge, there are no dents below the Jaguar emblem on the chrome surround of the grille.
“Then if you look at a picture of the car in the police yard, there is a dent.”
Mr Luvaglio said there were other inconsistencies. There is only one circular exhaust imprint in the Mark X registration plate – but the E-Type had a twin exhaust.
Mr Luvaglio, a charity worker, said his team hoped to persuade a university engineering department to create 3D models from the police photographs of the vehicles, to prove the evidence was faulty.
He added: “The prosecution’s case depended on the fact that the two cars collided – and this shows they didn’t.
“They had no forensic evidence. There were blood and fingerprints found in the Mark X which didn’t belong to me or Dennis.”
Mr Luvaglio hopes the fresh take on the evidence will persuade the authorities to send the case to the Court of Appeal.
But the 75-year-old suffers from severe heart problems and fears he may not live to see his name cleared.
Stafford, who lived in Peterlee at the time, and Luvaglio were given life sentences for Sibbett’s murder in 1967, but were later released on life licence.
The three men worked for Luvaglio’s brother Vince Landa and his Sunderland-based fruit-machine empire Social Club Services.
It has been claimed Sibbett was killed and his friends framed, to allow the notorious Kray twins to move into the North East and capitalise on the lucrative industry.
But despite two appeals to the Court of Appeal and one to the House of Lords, as well as an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and a plea to have the case heard at the European Court of Justice, they have failed to overturn the conviction.
Mr Luvaglio has now set up a website, www.villain-or-victim.com, to highlight what he claims are many inconsistencies in the evidence against him and Stafford.
The site has attracted more than 57,000 hits so far, and his supporters have also put up a £20,000 reward for anyone with information which leads to the men being cleared.