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THE RIVER - NEWS www.riveronline.co.uk

Closing time for - Kingston’s biggest nightclub loses its licence - Officially the most dangerous club in London - More crime than all other local clubs combined

By Alex Sunier and Zoe Birdsall OCEANA faces closure following a fatal stabbing and it’s “continuously high crime rates.” Council members made their decision on Tuesday this week at Guildhall after a day-long hearing. Evidence produced by the Metropolitan Police about the murder of Jamie Sanderson proved to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for Luminar’s flagship nightclub. “With the history of the premises and what we have heard today, revoking the premises licence is the only appropriate response. Twenty five per cent of crimes in Kingston happen inside Oceana and we have taken into account local residents complaints,” said a spokeswoman for Kingston Council licensing subcommittee. Toby Marshall, operating manager of Oceana, said: “This decision obviously comes as a shock, we weren’t expecting that. I will be talking to our chief executive before making any further decisions.” Luminar has appealed the licensing sub-committee’s decision, during this period the club’s doors will remain open. The process of appeal is expected to take up to three months. Up to 100 students and local residents could lose their jobs if Luminar loses their appeal. Oceana opened for business as normal on Tuesday night, telling their customers on Facebook: "The death of a customer in our club was tragic, but the safety and security of our customers is and always has been our main priority and that’s why the outcome of today’s licensing hearing decision is so disappointing.” The barrister speaking on behalf of Kingston police, said: “The rate of crime consistently remains at a level so high that it is just unacceptable. It has a negative impact on the image of the area and crime levels.” During the licensing sub-committee hearing, it was revealed that a “loophole” in the club’s security setup allowed a knife to be brought into the premises on the night of Jamie Sanderson’s murder. According to police the knife

was brought in to Oceana through WooWoo bar, which had a second entrance into Oceana with no metal detectors on the door. Oceana Kingston have said on their Facebook page: “The club will remain open and trade as normal until further notice. We've have changed our security policy regarding entry via WooWoo, as some of you will have seen, customers can no longer enter the club that way.” Documents shown to the committee reported a catalogue of crimes that have taken place in 2012 within the super club including eight cases of assault causing grievous bodily harm and the alleged rape of a 19-year-old girl. The decision to revoke the licence was backed by the 2,464 people who joined ‘Shut Down Oceana Kingston’, a Facebook group created with the sole purpose of getting the trouble hot spot closed down permanently. 3 out of 5 people who were asked in a recent poll by The River also voted to have the super club shut down. The police barrister said: “This paints a woeful picture of Luminar. A large number of incidents reported inside Oceana are mobile phone thefts but there are also cases of murder, ABH (actual bodily harm), GBH, robberies and rape. They should know what is going on here. “In every GBH and ABH case explanation, the culprit says they were extremely drunk (as a result of Oceana). “The premises sole interest is to get numbers through its doors. Matters have come to a head now. Some may say that the recent tragic incident is the straw that broke the camel’s back. The only solution is to shut it down. “It is clear that there is something about the way that the premises is run means that they are unable to combat crime. If you compare offences to other premises in Kingston, Oceana has more crime than the other premises combined. They shouldn’t have irresponsible drinks promotions. It is astonishing that they have been selling drinks for £1, it is unacceptable.” The news of the licence revoke has caused mixed reactions. “If it has been found to be the most dangerous club in London then I think that it

Tragedy in Oceana

Three men will appear at the Old Bailey in January on trial for the murder of Oceana stab victim Jamie Sanderson. Ashley Milne, 22, Brandon Fran-

cis, 19, both of Peckham and Benjamin Onwuma, 20, of Walworth, south-east London were charged with Mr Sanderson’s murder. Jamie Sanderson, 20, died on the way to hospital after suffering a single stab wound. The incident happened on Wednesday October 25, during one of Oceana’s busiest student nights dubbed ‘Fuzzy Logic’. A tribute page in memory of Mr Sanderson has been set up on Facebook. It has received over 3,400 ‘likes’. He was nicknamed ‘Bullet’ by friends and lived in Peckham.

TOP: Victim, Jamie Sanderson. BOTTOM: Crime scene outside Oceana ELENA BLAGOEVA

is a good idea that they have closed it down,” said Hiba Al-khazraji, 22, studying applications of clinical psychology at Kingston University. While other students think Oceana will leave a huge hole in Kingston. “It was a great nightclub. I used to go there like every week. Closing it down is a shocker. I didn’t think it was going to close to be honest,” said first year computer science student Liam Solanke. It’s been a rocky road for Luminar in recent years. Oceana’s parent company Luminar has been in administration since last year, having to sell off 66 of its 79 sites in a deal worth £45m. Combined with their financial woes, there have been reported incidents of a man having his ear bitten off, an attack by teenagers that left one man in a coma and a group of thieves who went on a spree of stealing mobile phones from wom-

en’s bags and a Kingston student who was crushed to death in one of Oceana’s sister clubs, Ignite, in October last year in Northampton. However, the situation looked to be improving for Kingston’s biggest club after the club introduced completely new management last year. The club reported a decrease in the number of crimes from 254 in 2010 to 158 in 2011. This downturn has continued in 2012 when they reported a 40 per cent fall in crime inside the club. A new security system was introduced after the fatal stabbing on 25 October and Oceana put on a good show when they re-opened two weeks later, with thorough security checks and more doormen on duty. But the lapses in security that led to the fatal stabbing of Jamie Sanderson and another stabbing which led to serious injuries in May, was too much for Oceana to bounce back

Flowers left outside Oceana as a memorial to the

from as the authorities saw these measures as too little too late. Councillors Liz Green, Shiraz Mirza and Ken Smith voted to revoke the club’s licence and will now assess Oceana’s situation again during the appeal. Deputy Mayor and Councillor Barry O’Mahony said: “I am pleased and relieved for the residents of Kingston. I hope it is the first step in improving the reputation of Kingston.” Councillor O’Mahony is in favour for the venue to be changed into a live music arena, which will solve the problem of late night violence b also bring more people to Kingston to help boost the economy. The president of the student union, Sean Kelly, said: “We hope that other clubs and bars in the area will now take the utmost precautions to look after young people’s safety.” COMMENT P19

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