January 4 was the 26th anniversary of the death of Phil Lynott, a man who gave music to the world. It was also the 45th anniversary of the death of a man no one had ever heard of until his body was found slumped in the back of his car.
Let’s be straight about this; there are a lot of people serving time for murder who shouldn’t be. In the humble opinion of this unworthy scribe that includes Michael Stone, Omar Benguit and possibly the two men who were convicted earlier this week of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. There are also people who are walking the streets who shouldn’t be, including those who have walked away from a murder charge Scot free, or nearly Scot free as in the case of America’s most hated woman.
By the same token there are those who are convicted of murder on compelling evidence who just won’t let it go, even after they lose appeal after appeal after appeal, and are paroled into the bargain. Michael Luvaglio is one such person.
Along with his co-defendant, self-styled fun loving criminal (and scumbag) Dennis Stafford, Luvaglio was convicted of what became known as the one-armed bandit murder. The victim was Angus Sibbet, who it has to be said was no angel. The two men each received a mandatory life sentence. Unlike the equally guilty Mumia Abu-Jamal who has spent the best part of 30 years behind bars most of that time under sentence of death for a murder that was committed more or less on the spur of the moment, these two unsavouries who carried out a planned and calculated assassination were turned loose on the public after a mere twelve years, all the more surprising when one considers that only 3 years earlier they may well have been hanged.
It has to be said that unlike Stafford, Luvaglio has led a blameless life since his release, and is now living on borrowed time, having suffered five heart attacks according to one source. Whether or not this particular detail is true, he is certainly a gravely ill old man, and has been for some time. Not content though with redeeming himself as best he could through charity work, he insists on continuing vacuously to protest his innocence. How can I be so sure of his guilt?
Nearly 11 years ago I set up a website about another convicted murderer who protested his innocence and continued to even after he was paroled. His name was Satpal Ram, and his guilt was proved by overwhelming evidence. Unlike Luvaglio, he is now back in prison, where he belongs. I have had occasional praise for this website over the years, none more so than from a gent who contacted me quite a while back. I won’t give his name, but I will say that he is now very old. And the brother of Angus Sibbet. He lives far north, but we arranged to meet at the Public Record Office back in September 2008 where, having brought his digital camera, we spent some time going through files related to the murder trial.
Although the murder Ram committed was very different from the murder of his brother, he noticed certain similarities, in particular Luvaglio and even more for a while Stafford, would not only protest their innocence but make claims that were completely untrue but were parroted uncritically by the media. Like Ram, Stafford and Luvaglio also managed to enlist high powered support.
Again, how can I be so certain Stafford and Luvaglio are guilty? There are many good indicators of guilt. Mumia was found slumped on the pavement with a bullet from his victim in his chest and an empty gun at his feet. Then there was the little matter of the eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses can be mistaken of course, though not in Mumia’s case. Another, very good indicator of guilt is a fake alibi, and this is what gave Stafford and Luvaglio away. They forced the victim’s car off the road, which damaged their own car, then tried to cover it up. Unfortunately for them, the police were on top of it, and seized the vehicle before the cover up could be completed. There is a lot more evidence against them besides which can be found in the relevant Public Record Office files, in particular ASSI 45/798, DPP 2/4345 and DPP 2/4346.
Luvaglio’s claim that the notorious Kray Twins were behind the murder is all smoke and mirrors; there has never been a shred of evidence that they were in any way involved, for one thing they were too busy running their own firm in the capital hundreds of miles away. For another, when New Scotland Yard finally brought them to book, the police looked into their affairs in minute detail. Ronnie and Reggie are now long dead, and there are enough myths about them without starting new ones.
As to his claim that the family of the victim deserve justice, Luvaglio himself has never been in touch with any member of the family at any time. I had that straight from the horse’s mouth. Time is running out Michael, ’fess up your sins now, then maybe when you meet St Peter, he will look at your post-prison career, and let you through the Pearly Gates.
[The above op-ed was first published January 6, 2012 (London time), not January 5 as shown here. As with all Digital Journal articles at that time, it included a photograph which did not archive nor save to my hard disk, but I believe it was the one of Angus Sibbet, above. His surname is sometimes spelt Sibbett, but Sibbet is the correct spelling. Michael Luvaglio died in 2020 protesting his innocence to the end. At the time of writing, October 2022, his website is extant.]
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