R v Stafford; R v Luvaglio (Note)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date30 July 1968
Judgment citation (vLex)[1968] EWCA Crim J0730-1
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Docket NumberNo. 1412/67 No. 1413/67
Date30 July 1968

[1968] EWCA Crim J0730-1



Royal Courts of Justice


Lord Justice Edmund Davies

Lord Justice Fenton Atkinson


Mr. Justice Waller

No. 1412/67


No. 1413/67

Dennis Stafford
Michael Luvaglio

MR. R. LYONS, Q.C. and MR. W. STEER and MR. R. STROYAN appeared on behalf of the Applicant Stafford.

MR. JAMES COMYN, Q.C. and MR. J. MATHEW appeared on behalf of the Applicant Luvaglio.

MR. H. SCOTT, Q.C. and MR. R. CASTLE-MILLER appeared on behalf of the Crown.


DAYIES: On March 7th 1967 the trial of these two applicants began at Newcastle Assizes before Mr. Justice O'Connor and a jury on a charge that they had murdered Angus Sibbett. On March 15th the jury convicted both of them. They have applied to this Court for leave to call additional evidence and to appeal against their convictions, but four days ago we announced that the applications of each accused were refused. We now proceed to state the grounds for that refusal.


Social Club Services Limited appears to be controlled by Vincent Luvaglio (a brother of the second applicant) and carries on the business in the North-East of furnishing clubs, installing fruit machines and providing cabarets. Both accused were employed by that company, and so also was Sibbett, who collected the takings from fruit machines and was provided with a dark green Mark 10 Jaguar saloon car. Vincent Luvaglio owned a red E-type Jaguar which had a black soft hood. On Tuesday, January 3rd 1967 Michael Luvaglio (who will be referred to hereafter simply as "Luvaglio") and Stafford flew back from Majorca. The following day Stafford borrowed the E-type belonging to Vincent Luvaglio who very soon after his arrival at Heathrow on January 3rd had flown back to Majorca.


The two accused and Sibbett saw much of each other in the Sunderland area on the 4th January. They appeared to be on the best of terms and there was no evidence of any ill-will between them. That day was to prove Sibbett's last, for about 5.15 the following morning he was found dumped at the rear of his Mark 10 at Pesspool Bridge, South Hetton. He had been thrice shot and unquestionably murdered.


The case for the Grown was that about 11.50 p.m. on January 4th there had been a severe collision on the main A182 road between the Mark 10 driven by Sibbett and the E-type driven by one of the accused and accompanied by the other; that Sibbett had been shot when getting out of his car, and that his dead body was then dragged over the road surface and bundled back into the Mark 10; that one of the accused then got into the driving seat of the Mark 10 and the other accused into the E-type; that they had then driven a short distance into Pesspool Lane, where they momentarily stopped; that they had then driven on and, by making two right turns, were back on the A182 road and then travelled fast until they reached Pesspool Bridge, when the Mark 10 developed engine trouble; and that it was there abandoned with the dead Sibbett inside it, while the two accused made off rapidly to Newcastle in the E-type. In this way, so the Crown asserted, these two accused had participated in the murder of Sibbett.


The important comment must here be made that, so striking was the forensic evidence that those two cars had collided with each other, that that aspect of it was never challenged at the trial, which was throughout conducted on the basis that, as the Judge rightly reminded the jury (25H), "Everybody now concedes that at some stage that night there was a collision between the Mark 10 Jaguar and this red E-type Jaguar". The real question on this aspect of the case was, as the Judge added, "… If it did not happen in the 182 (road) at about ten-minutes-to-twelve, where and when did it happen?". As we shall see, the whole defence was directed towards showing that, although the collision was unquestioned, it had occurred at such a time as freed the two accused from any possible complicity in the murder.


Both accused said that they were in each other's company at all material times, and they advanced an alibi which may be thus summarised: Luvaglio said that on the evening of January 4th he had collected his fiancee, Miss Pat Burgess, from 5 Chelsea Grove, Newcastle, where they both lived, and had driven her about 23 miles to 109 Westmorland Rise, Peterlee, where Stafford and his girl, Selena Jones, were. After spending some time there, the two men set out at 11.30 p.m. in the E-type and, travelling via Sunderland, arrived at No. 5 Chelsea Grove just after midnight. Despite the cold weather, they had made this long, dark journey because Luvaglio was expecting a telephone call at about midnight from Majorca from his brother Vincent, from whom he had parted the day before, Stafford saying he accompanied his friend just to keep him company. They waited a mere 15 minutes and, no telephone call having come, they then drove a short distance to the Bird Gage Club where Luvaglio had a business appointment to meet Sibbett at 12.30 a.m. They in fact reached the Club before 12.30, but although they remained there until 2 a.m. Sibbett never appeared. During their stay inside the Club, the E-type car (which they had left in an immaculate condition outside) somehow sustained substantial damage to its rear. Such was the alibi advanced by both accused at their trial and, save for certain points which will be later referred to, this was also the account which each had separately given to the Police when he was first seen in the early hours of January 6th.


Having outlined the two conflicting cases, we proceed to fill in the most important of the details which emerged during this 8-day trial. What is known of Sibbett's movements is soon told. He had gone with his girl-friend Joyce Hall (who lived at 38 St. Edmund's Road, Newcastle) in his Mark 10 to the Dolce Vita Club in that City. She said he left her there at about 10.55 p.m., she herself remaining on until about 2 a.m., but a Mr. Oxley said he saw Sibbett leaving the Club at about 11.15 p.m., and Oxley is the last person known to have seen him alive.


Reference has already been made to Luvaglio and his girl visiting Stafford and Selena Jones at 109 Westmorland Rise earlier that evening. Wells, a neighbour, testified to seeing a red E-type car parked outside No. 109 and to seeing Stafford standing in the drive. He said that the car had later been driven away, and he at first put the time of its departure at about 11 p.m., but later altered this to between 11.5 and 11.35.


So much for the two accused and the man alleged to have been their victim. We now turn to consider the prosecution evidence regarding traffic on a stretch of the main A182 road on this cold January night. Between 11.40 and 11.50 p.m. several witnesses claimed to have seen an E-type and a Mark 10 Jaguar follow each other along that road in the southerly direction of Easington village. Mr. Knight had left Houghton-le-Spring at 11.50 and was driving south when two cars entered the A182 from the Eencehouses road on his right. He was sure that the second was a Mark 10 with an index number ending with a 'D' (Sibbett's Mark 10 was MUP 11D) and he thought that the first was an E-type Jaguar. They were proceeding at a little under 30 miles per hour and being driven very close to each other, and he soon overtook them.


At 11.46 Mr. Johnson was standing at the bus-stop opposite the South Hetton Colliery when there passed him a red E-type Jaguar followed by a dark-coloured Jaguar saloon, the leading car containing one person and the second car two.


Mr. Sanderson was walking along the A182 road in a southerly direction when "round about ten-to-twelve" he was overtaken just short of Pesspool Bridge by a reddish-coloured E-type Jaguar and a large dark-coloured Jaguar saloon, travelling about 5 yards apart at not more than 30 miles perhour. They both passed under the bridge, and when he himself did so shortly after, no car was parked close to or under it.


Almost the last Crown witness on this part of the case was Mr. Golden and very important he is, for the prosecution presents him as one who, although he heard no shots, was probably only a short distance ahead of the place where the murder was committed and at the very time it was taking place. He was cycling along the A182 in a southerly direction at about 11.50 p.m. when some 1300 yards south of the place where important debris was later found, he was overtaken by an E-type Jaguar and a saloon Jaguar, both travelling at about 60 miles per hour and "that close together" that they attracted his attention.


Finally, we have Mrs. Burnip, who lived 260 yards back from the main road at West Moor House. She said that, having gone to bed about 9.30 p.m., she read for some time and put the light out at about midnight. She estimated that it was about 20 minutes later that she heard "two sharp cracks" from outside, awoke her husband and looked out through the window. She saw nothing, but a nearby haystack marked some 108 feet of the main A182 road from view, and it was within that 108 feet that significant debris was later found.


Much controversy arose as to the significance of what Mrs. Burnip had heard and when this was. Had she heard a gun being fired twice, and what was the time when she heard whatever she did hear? If she was hearing murderous shots and if the time was in truth 12.20 a.m., the two accused could not then have been present on the South Hetton Easington road, for they were certainly at Newcastle not later than about 12.30. But if it was demonstrated (as we think it clearly was) that the E-type collided with the Mark 10 and that Sib-bett's murder was there and then committed, then, as the E-type was at...

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