Staff of the club where students died in a stampede will not be held accountable
October 23, 2014
The crowd which formed in the club's corridor
Following an investigation into the death of two young women crushed to death in a Northampton nightclub back in October 2011, it has been decided that no one will be held accountable for their tragic deaths.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), after assessing the findings of both Northamptonshire police and the Borough Council ruled out a case for gross negligence manslaughter and the club’s general manager and head of security being held responsible.
Students Nabila Nanfuka, 22, and 19-year-old Laurene-Danielle Jackson were the fatal victims of a stampede which occurred at Northampton’s Lava & Ignite club on October 19 2011, where they were part of a 1,500 people-strong crowd. Both women later died in hospital.
An event called Wickedest Wickedest for university students from across the UK was being held at the club that night, with many students having travelled a long distance to the venue via coaches. The stampede occurred following an announcement that these coaches would soon be leaving from outside the club and that there was a risk of the clubbers being left behind.
Dan Jones of the CPS Special Crime Division said:
"The prosecution cannot prove that he [the club's general manager] foresaw, or should have foreseen, in advance of the crush developing, that there was an obvious and serious risk of death from overcrowding on the cloakroom landing and the stairs.
There is no evidence of any previous issues with overcrowding at this location in the club. Nor is there sufficient evidence to show that the manager deliberately disregarded people’s safety; as soon as the crush began to develop he took steps to try and stop it. More door staff than normally required were deployed at the club that night, he had closed the doors before the venue had reached full capacity and he allocated more staff to assist in the cloakroom during the evening when issues arose. In light of all this evidence, there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction for gross negligence manslaughter."
A number of people, including the dead girls’ families, have been left dissatisfied with the CPS ruling and are raising further questions.
Councillor David Mackintosh of Northampton Borough Council spoke of the importance of learning from the “tragic incident” to prevent similar situations occurring in the future. Mackintosh also said that further actions may yet be taken under health and safety laws. "It is crucial to me that we learn any lessons that should be learned from this, so that it is prevented from happening again. We will review the evidence that we have gathered and, when we have liaised with the Coroner, we will look to see if action should be taken under the Health and Safety at Work Act."
Northampton MP Brian Binley, in a letter to the crown prosecutor, raised his concerns surrounding the judgment. “Many parents would disagree with the view you have taken and indeed all the comments at the time and photographs taken in the nightclub suggest that the arrangements made to deal with such a tragedy were inadequate,” wrote Mr Binley. He continued, “We owe both the young ladies who died and their parent’s an undertaking that steps will be taken to prevent future incidents in order to give their deaths some meaning. […] There is no doubt the number of people admitted to such clubs should err on the side of caution, and this may provide some very small consolation for them.”
19-year-old Laurene-Danielle Jackson
Laurene-Danielle Jackson, from Shepherd's Bush, was studying psychology and criminology at Kingston University London at the time. Jackson’s mother, Angela Ferdinand, 42, has spoken of her total dissatisfaction with the findings of the CPS report. “Nothing that is said or done will bring our Danni back, but with the response of the CPS report it is as if our loved one died in vain. At the moment I am just feeling numbness. I don’t have words,” said Ms Ferdinand. She added, “As a family we feel that there was evidently gross negligence… Someone needs to be held accountable.”
Nabila Nanfuka, 22, from north London, was studying leisure and tourism at the University of Northampton.
Nabila Nanfuka, 22, from London
Mr Jones, of the CPS, said that, "The death of these two young women on a night out with friends is a real tragedy and our thoughts remain with the families of Nabila and Dani. We have written to them to explain our decision in detail."
The club where the incident occurred had since permanently closed down following its operator, Luminar, going into administration.