The volatile punk rocker, famous as much for his anti-establishment ravings, drug-fuelled lifestyle and engrossing acts of public self-mutilation, as for his bass playing in the Sex Pistols, denied all allegations against himself.
Spungen had already been addicted to heroin for five years by the time of her death, aged 20, on 12 October 1978 and her relationship with Vicious served only to accelerate a decline into ever more frequent and voracious drug usage.
The pair became regular tabloid fodder, with the public fascinated by their rock ‘n’ roll antics on both sides of the Atlantic and, as her life had been, so her death was tabloid gold. After checking in to a Manhattan hotel with his girlfriend and embarking upon another night of revelry, Vicious emerged the next morning, apparently shaken, and told staff, “something’s happened to my girl”.
Spungen was found with one fatal stab wound in her abdomen, clothed only in lingerie, dead on the bathroom floor; a victim, it later transpired, of a knife recently purchased by Vicious. The possible involvement of a string of equally exotic characters such as comedian Rockets Redglare, multiple drugs dealers and members of other high-profile bands, muddied the waters as far as the police investigating the crime were concerned.
A clear verdict seemed unlikely and, having managed to obtain bail, Vicious would never see another trial, dying himself, a month later, as a result of a heroin overdose.