London’s Metropolitan Police are conducting a “vast and complex” investigation into the crowd crush that resulted in two deaths at the Brixton Academy last month, the outcome of which could be criminal charges. That’s according to a senior officer who spoke at the opening of the inquest into the two deaths at a London court on Friday.
The crowd crush occurred during the third of three sell out shows at the London venue by Asake on 15 Dec and resulted in the deaths of concert goer Rebecca Ikumelo and security contractor Gaby Hutchinson.
The venue’s licence was suspended for one month shortly after the incident. That licence suspension was then extended earlier this month to 16 Apr. Venue operator the Academy Music Group had already announced that the building would remain closed until mid-April even before Lambeth Council formally extended the suspension of its licence.
Inquests into the deaths of Ikumelo and Hutchinson opened at the London Inner South Coroner’s Court on Friday. According to The Guardian, Nigel Penney, the Metropolitan Police’s Senior Investigating Officer on the case, spoke at that hearing.
Echoing what police said when speaking to Lambeth Council’s licensing committee earlier in the month, Penney told the court that the investigation into what happened on 15 Dec is “a vast and complicated process”, with many witnesses to question and hundreds of hours of CCTV footage to analyse. “There are a lot of lines of inquiry to establish the facts and get to the truth,” he added.
Asked by Senior Coroner Andrew Harris whether the investigation could result in homicide or other charges, Penney said there was a “strong possibility” that that could be the outcome.
The police requested that the inquests into the deaths of Ikumelo and Hutchinson be suspended while their investigation is carried out. After granting that request, and presumably to manage the expectations of the families of the two victims, Harris added: “It seems to me that if this is a complex criminal investigation, this matter is going to take some years”.
Although at the time of the crowd crush it was reported that problems began when people without tickets for the sell-out show tried to force their way into the venue, since then there have been allegations that other factors likely contributed to the incident.
In a BBC report earlier this month, it was alleged that the Asake show was understaffed and that some security personnel at the Brixton Academy were known to be involved in the sale of fake tickets to shows at the venue. Those allegations are also presumably being looked into as part of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation.
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