Within fifteen minutes of Angus’ body being found on the A182 in South Hetton, PC Cluer had arrived at the scene. He was quickly joined by two traffic officers, Hafferty and Grierson, who had been on patrol in the area in their Austin Westminster police car on the 10pm to 6am shift.
By 5.45am a police photographer, James Wilson, had arrived and took three photographs – a surprisingly small number considering the seriousness of the crime.
One photograph was taken from the front of the Mark X, another from behind and a final photograph was taken of the body in situ.
Local GP, Dr. Seymour Hunter, arrived at around the same time and waited for Wilson to finish up before he gave the body a somewhat cursory examination at 5.50am.
He had been instructed by the police at the scene not to move the
body, therefore all he had really done was confirm the man was
Crucially, because of these instructions he didn’t take the
temperature of the body, which would have helped to calculate the time of death.
At 6am Superintendent Ronald Kell arrived on the scene to take charge of the investigation and a little later Superintendent
Chapman was collecting red paint flakes from the damaged Mark X bumper.
Kell was an experienced officer, who had received extensive training in forensics. Because of this he took the unusual decision to create a ‘mobile crime scene’, where the body remained in situ while the
vehicle containing it was transported to Peterlee.
At 8am Kell instructed officers to find a recovery company capable of towing the Mark X. This proved problematic due to the weight of the vehicle and it took until 9am for a suitable truck to arrive.
The journey was conducted very slowly, in fact it took two hours to cover the four miles to Peterlee Police Station and some damage was caused to the front of the Mark X during this time.
All this time, the body of Angus Sibbet lay in the back of the vehicle, with the driver’s window wound down, the passenger window smashed on an extremely cold January morning.
On arrival at Peterlee Police Station there were more photos taken, the body was eventually removed and laid on a plastic sheet in the yard. More photos were taken before it was eventually transported to the mortuary.
It wasn’t until 1.15pm that a temperature of the body was taken by Dr. Ennis as the post mortem examination began.
This was now a full 8 hours from it’s discovery.
Yet at trial this temperature was used to calculate the time of death, which crucially had to have been around 11.50pm to fall within the period of time Luvaglio and Stafford had no alibi while they said they were travelling from Peterlee to the Birdcage Club.
In 1967, the use of body temperatures to calculate a time of death was considered quite an exact science, whereas today it is considered less reliable due to the many variables involved.
In Sibbet’s case those variables included that long journey in a
freezing car with it’s windows open or shattered.
Once Ennis had concluded his examination a forensic pathologist and a ballistics expert were consulted and various items of Sibbet’s clothing were supplied.
They concluded that he had been shot at close range (with at least one of the shots having been inflicted with the gun touching his overcoat) with a 7.65 calibre pistol, probably self loading.
At around the same time, police received an anonymous tip-off that a damaged red E-Type involved in the murder had been taken to a Sunderland garage for repairs after an accident.
Officers were sent to guard it overnight and it was eventually
transferred to Peterlee Police Station the following morning.
Meanwhile, back in South Hetton, officers were conducting house to house enquiries, combing the area for clues and were also at the
local pit office talking to miners.
One such miner was James Golden. He gave a statement of his movements and told police that at 11.50pm he had been overtaken by an E-Type and an old Jaguar car as he was cycling past Burnip’s Farm. As it turned out, some days later this was the exact time and location the police would say the murder had been committed so as the investigation progressed he gave a further two statements changing his position. In the end, only the final statement was made available to the defence team so they were under the impression this was the only statement he had made. More detail on this and all three statements can be seen here.
As well as officers from across the county, the army were drafted in from Catterick Garrison to help with the search for clues.
Yet it wasn’t until 9th January that reflector glass and other debris was discovered by PC Chapman and Sgt. Watson on the side of A182, about half a mile ahead of where the body had been found and just before the junction of Pesspool Lane.
Glass and other debris had also been found in Pesspool Lane and so the police case began to take shape.
According to police, a collision between the two vehicles had taken place on the A182 at 11.50pm in the spot where the glass and debris had been found.
As Sibbet got out of his vehicle he was shot at close range and killed.
Luvaglio and Stafford then manhandled him into the back of his own car, through the slush and mud from the snowy conditions that night.
They then drove, in convoy, into Pesspool Lane where they stopped half way down to clear out the vehicles leaving the biggest piece of evidence still present – Sibbet’s body.
Next they head through Haswell, Salters Lane until they end up back on the A182 heading back towards the scene of the crime.
But just before Pesspool Bridge the Mark X breaks down, as a result of the earlier collision. It’s dumped by the side of the road and
Luvaglio and Stafford head back to Newcastle to establish an alibi.
To support their theory the police reconstructed the route they said Luvaglio and Stafford had taken and timed themselves, taking into account time to stop for the murder and the clearing out of the
vehicles in Pesspool Lane, to prove that all the timings they had used were possible. Except they did the journey in reverse and with a Mark X, instead of an E-Type rendering the whole exercise pointless.
Why two killers decided to hang around the village and take a
circuitous route around narrow and bendy country lanes in snow and icy conditions before heading straight back in the direction of the scene of the crime has never been explained, apart from that they did it to clear out the vehicles.
However, without doing this and heading straight back to Newcastle Luvaglio and Stafford (were they guilty) would have arrived earlier than multiple witnesses had said they’d seen them at 12.30am.