THE family of murdered pub boss Billy Sibbald today spoke of their continuing search for “justice and closure” ten years to the day after he was last seen alive.
The killing of Mr Sibbald, who was repeatedly stabbed before his body was dumped down an embankment off the A1, remains unsolved despite a massive police hunt.
Two of his three sons, Craig and Paul, have marked the tragic anniversary by telling the Evening News of their anguish over the loss of a man they called “the best dad in the world”.
They described how they still hope for a phone call or a knock at the door every day to tell them what happened to their father as they renewed their appeal for information to help finally solve the case.
In a statement the family said: “We have spent ten Christmases, birthdays and father’s days without knowing how or why the one person who should be here to celebrate with us died.
“We have and will always miss having a husband, dad and brother at these family occasions, and we hope someone, somewhere, has the compassion and humility to come forward to help the police and our family.”
Detective Inspector Scott Cunningham, senior investigating officer on the case, said today that he believes someone in the Portobello and Craigmillar area still “holds the key” in solving the mystery.
Officers knew that Mr Sibbald had associates in the criminal underworld who may have been responsible, and urged people to “search their conscience” and end the family’s suffering.
Mr Sibbald, who ran the Pop Inn in Portobello after selling the Orchid House sauna in the New Town, told his wife Julie, now 43, that he was going out to meet business associates on October 8, 2002, after receiving a phone call.
The 48-year-old was picked up at his Portobello home by unknown men at about 8pm. Three months later his body was found in a wooded area close to the A1 near Musselburgh although police believe he was killed shortly after leaving for the meeting.
His son Paul, 23, an office administrator who was still at school when his father was murdered, said: “There was nothing different about him that night. He was going to meet someone for business, something he did all the time. Even when he was missing I always thought he would come back again.
“I never gave up on that until they found him. I can still remember that day when a police officer came to the door with my aunt to tell us. I just broke apart. I still haven’t come to terms with it.”
Detectives have probed several theories suggesting that Mr Sibbald’s murder was a gangland hit. One theory was that he crossed paths with a violent gangster Martin Hamilton over a drug deal gone wrong while another posited that his involvement in the sauna industry led to his death at the hands of Eastern European criminals.
His son Craig, 35, who also works as office administrator, said: “All the speculation about why it happened has been difficult to deal with. A person had been murdered here regardless of his background.
“My dad was streetwise enough to deal with different situations. He knew some dodgy characters but he was confident in dealing with them.”
He added: “It’s been extremely difficult over the last ten years. I don’t know if people were too scared to talk about what they knew at the time.
“ All I know is that we are urging people now to help us find out what happened.”
Police have regularly reviewed the Sibbald case in the hope of finding a breakthrough. Although information coming in has slowed to a trickle in recent years, his family have never given up hope.
Paul added: “It was a huge loss when dad was gone, for his children and for our mum. He was the best dad in the world.
“He was someone who just made you happy.
That feeling has never gone away. I’m still hoping to get that call.”
DI Cunningham, from the force’s Major Investigations Team (MIT), said: “Through a review of the investigation we know key witnesses were in the Portobello and Craigmillar area. Some witnesses refused to engage with us at the time while others provided limited information.
“We’re confident witnesses had information and held it back. We’re appealing for them to come forward and tell us what they know. After this length of time, they could’ve had a change in their circumstances or loyalties.
“I would appeal to their conscience and their sense of doing the right thing.”
THE STORY SO FAR . .
October 8, 2002: Mr Sibbald leaves his home after telling wife Julie that he was going to meet some business associates.
October 10: A burnt-out stolen Hyundai Pony car is found in Eskmill Road, Penicuik, which police later believe could be connected to his murder.
November 8: Detectives visit Glenochil Prison to interview notorious gangster Martin Hamilton. Reports that the publican was told he owed Hamilton £10,000 just two weeks before he vanished were dismissed by his family.
December 23: Mr Sibbald’s family appeal for him to come home for Christmas.
January 10, 2003: Mr Sibbald’s decomposed body is found on the west side of the embankment of the A1 at Whitehill Road.
January 14: Police reveal that Mr Sibbald was stabbed to death after being lured to a meeting.
January 18: Mr Sibbald’s wife rejects claims that her husband was the victim of a gangland killing.
March 11: Mr Sibbald’s funeral takes place at Seafield Crematorium.
2004: Report is sent to the procurator fiscal naming three men as connected to the murder, but no charges are brought due to “insufficient evidence”.
CLOTHES COULD BE KEY TO SOLVING MYSTERY
DETECTIVES believe the whereabouts of the clothes that Billy Sibbald wore on the night he disappeared and the distinctive lighter he was carrying could still be “key” to solving the case.
Mr Sibbald was last seen wearing a fawn three-quarter length jacket made by Gant, cream shirt and brown Timberland shoes.
He was also in possession of a gold bracelet and a DuPont Gatsby lighter. These items, along with his clothing, have never been recovered.
Detective Inspector Scott Cunningham said: “The items of clothing Mr Sibbald was wearing on the night
he disappeared could be key.
“These items are still missing. It’s possible that these items are still around, or someone knows where they are.”