A book by former Sunderland Echo and Northern Echo journalist Patrick Lavelle about the real murder which inspired the Michael Caine film Get Carter is to be published three years after his death.
Lavelle died of cancer aged 50 leaving instructions that the book could be published only once one of the individuals named in it had died, for legal reasons. Now that has happened his widow Maureen has fulfilled a promise to her dying husband by getting the book published.
The shooting of Angus Sibbet in County Durham in 1967 led to two men being jailed for life, but they always protested their innocence.
Lavelle researched the case and interviewing those involved in a bid to uncover the truth. But, during the assignment, he was diagnosed with cancer and died three years ago at the age of 50.
Just weeks before he died, he arranged for his book, King of the North, to be printed.
His wife Maureen said: “He was very ill but he was determined to finish the book before he died.
“He did a lot of research and the book contains a lot of new material.
“Patrick had the book printed but told me that, for legal reasons, it could not be published until a certain person had died.
“That person has since passed away as well and now, as we approach the third anniversary of Patrick’s death, I’m determined to get the book out as he wanted.”
Lavelle, who lived in Roker and worked at Sunderland University, wrote seven books.
He also planned to have King of the North turned into a movie and travelled to Cannes and Toronto to help secure financial backing.
The multi-million project involved signing up Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen, who starred as Robert the Bruce in Braveheart, to play one of the lead roles in King of the North.
Maureen, 65, said: “There are still plans for the movie to be made.
“Patrick always worked very hard and put an enormous amount of effort into this project, so I’m really pleased that we can finally get the book out into the public.”
Killing which inspired a film
The murder of Angus Sibbet was one of the most notorious in the history of the North East of England.
Sibbet was employed to collect money from gambling machines in casinos and nightclubs across the region.
But in January 1967 he was found shot dead in a jaguar car parked under a railway bridge in the mining village of South Hetton.
Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford were charged with murder and the trial heard the motive was Sibbet helping himself to around £1,000-a-week in takings – the equivalent of £25,000 today.
Luvaglio and Stafford were convicted and jailed for life. They claimed they were innocent but their appeals failed, although they were released on parole in 1979.
The case inspired the cult gangland movie Get Carter, starring Michael Caine.
It exposed a sordid world of gangsters, sex and heavy-drinking which had built up around the slot machine business.
Over the years, various theories have emerged, including the involvement of the Krays, who had travelled from London to visit nightclubs in Newcastle around the time of the killing.