Murderer convicted of 1967 ‘One Armed Bandit’ killing that inspired Get Carter dies aged 83

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Killer who inspired Get Carter dies aged 83: Murderer convicted of 1967 ‘One Armed Bandit’ gangland killing of fruit machine cash collector passes away after long illness

  • Michael Luvaglio, passed away aged 83, was convicted over notorious murder
  • He and Dennis Stafford were both found guilty of the shooting of Angus Sibbet 
  • The so-called One Armed Bandit murder helped inspire 70s classic Get Carter

A convicted murderer, whose crime inspired 70s classic Get Carter, has died after a long illness and lengthier battle to try and clear his name. 

Michael Luvaglio, passed away aged 83, after decades of efforts to prove his innocence alongside Dennis Stafford.

They were both found guilty of the shooting of Angus Sibbet, 33.

Mr Sibbet had been a money collector for a company called Social Club Services, run by nightclub kingpin Vince Landa, which supplied the region’s clubs with fruit machines. 

Due to connections with the fruit machine business, his death became known as the ‘One Armed Bandit murder’.

Michael Luvagli outside the High Court in the most recent attempt to clear his name of murder

Angus Sibbet, pictured her in 1966, was the victim of the notorious One Armed Bandit murder

Angus Sibbet, pictured her in 1966, was the victim of the notorious One Armed Bandit murder

Elements of the famous crime inspired the 70s classic Michael Caine film Get Carter

Elements of the famous crime inspired the 70s classic Michael Caine film Get Carter

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

The killing helped inspire elements of the 1971 film Get Carter, which itself was an adaption of the book Jack’s Return Home. 

Michael Caine played Newcastle-born gangster Jack Carter who returns home from London to avenge his brother’s murder. 

Michael Luvaglio pictured at the time of his conviction for the murder of Angus Sibbet

Michael Luvaglio pictured at the time of his conviction for the murder of Angus Sibbet

Dennis Stafford was convicted alongside Luvaglio and also claimed he was innocent

Dennis Stafford was convicted alongside Luvaglio and also claimed he was innocent

The Mark X Jaguar saloon car where murder victim Angus Sibbet was found dead in 1967

The Mark X Jaguar saloon car where murder victim Angus Sibbet was found dead in 1967

The car containing the body was found under Pesspool Bridge in Easington, County Durham

The car containing the body was found under Pesspool Bridge in Easington, County Durham

The history of the One Armed Bandit murder

January 4, 1967 – Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford are due to meet Angus Sibbet, who was a money collector for a company owned by Luvaglio’s brother that supplied fruit machines, at the Birdcage Club in Newcastle.

January 5, 1967 – Mr Sibbet’s body is found shot dead in his Jaguar under Pesspool Bridge in South Hetton, County Durham, at 5.15am by a member of the public.

January 6, 1967 – Luvaglio and Stafford are charged over the crime, which became known as the One-Armed Bandit murder.

March 15, 1967 – both men are convicted and sentenced to life in prison after claiming they were innocent of the killing. There were no eyewitnesses to the act but a possible motive suggested was that Mr Sibbet may have been suspected of skimming the takings from the business.

March, 1979 – Both of the men are freed on licence from prison after two failed appeals against their conviction.

May 28, 2002 – Stafford’s legal team say a murder conviction based on the trial evidence would not be possible in modern times.

December 18, 2006 – The Criminal Cases Review Commission turn down a 2005 request by Stafford and Luvaglio to look at the case again.

April 10, 2008 – An attempt by the pair to convince High Court judges they were the victims of a miscarriage of justice failed.

March 4, 2017 – A senior judge refuses to overturn an earlier decision by the Criminal Cases Review Commission not to send the case to the Court of Appeal.

November 25, 2020 – Friend and filmmaker Neil Jackson vows to clear Luvaglio’s name after revealing he had died.

Director Mike Hodges was fascinated with the One Armed Bandit murder and used general gangland elements from it to inform the film. 

Both Luvaglio and Stafford protested their innocence but bids to challenge the conviction were refused.

Luvaglio always said he did not deserve to die as a murderer in the eyes of the law.  

Paying tribute to him. filmmaker Neil Jackson, of Consett, County Durham, vowed to continue the fight to clear his name.

He said: ‘I think that is the hardest thing really, Michael always said he never wanted to die legally convicted of murder. 

‘We tried very, very hard but unfortunately that wish didn’t come true.

‘He never lost the hunger to overturn his conviction and although we tried so hard, I’m utterly devastated we were unable to clear his name while he was alive. He deserved that.’  

Neil contacted Luvaglio about making a documentary but after forming a friendship, joined the fight for justice.

He carried out a three-year investigation and handed a dossier which contained fresh witness interviews and analysis of photo evidence, to the Criminal Case Review Commission – an independent public body set up to investigate possible miscarriages of justice.

But the attempt to have the case sent to the Court of Appeal was rejected.

He said: ‘I promised Michael when I met him that would not be the end. That’s what we will do in his memory, hopefully get someone. We still aspire to solve it.

‘We promised him we’d do it and we won’t give up.’

‘I am following a couple of leads this week and if anyone does have  information they should contact me.’

Neil, 46, described Luvaglio as a ‘very kind, very thoughtful’ person who would always put others before himself.

He said: ‘I remember one year I rang at Christmas and there was all this noise in the background and he was feeding the homeless, dishing soup out. That is the sort of person he was. 

‘When he left prison he set up a charity to help people with mental health problems. Hundreds and hundreds of lives he changed with that.’



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