Jury in Northampton nightclub deaths decides DJ announcements ‘were main cause of tragedy’

The jury at an inquest into the deaths of two women has been shown CCTV footage which shows 70 people packed into a small space outside the cloakroom at the Lava & Ignite cloakroom
The jury at an inquest into the deaths of two women has been shown CCTV footage which shows 70 people packed into a small space outside the cloakroom at the Lava & Ignite cloakroom

​The deaths of two students after a crush at a Northampton nightclub were mainly caused by DJ announcements telling clubbers their coaches were about to leave, a jury has decided.

Nabila Nanfuka, aged 22, a University of Northampton student, and Dani Jackson, 19, both received crush injuries at Lava & Ignite sometime between 3am and 4am on October 19, 2011.

Nabila died at NGH shortly after being taken to hospital and Dani died 17 days later at a Leicester hospital.

In all 28 people were injured in the crush.

During eight days of evidence, the jury, saw via CCTV footage, a crush develop on the stairs of the club, shortly after a DJ announced at 03.23 that about 300 students from Bedford were in danger of being left behind by their coach driver.

In total, 14 announcements were made in 30 minutes telling most of the students their coaches were set to leave.

The CCTV footage showed firefighters were unable to climb up the stairs due to the amount of people in the nightclub

The CCTV footage showed firefighters were unable to climb up the stairs due to the amount of people in the nightclub

The mass of people leaving together was met outside the main dancefloor with clubbers refusing to move from the cloakroom area - which was at the top of the stairs - where they were queuing for belongings or waiting for friends.

Cloakroom staff were unable to cope with the large numbers, leading to a large stationary crowd on one side of the vestibule.

Police officers, firefighters, bouncers and other clubbers all gave evidence that some of the crowd were bad-tempered and violent at that point, and many ignored directions to move back and stop pushing.

As a result, many people fell onto each other on the stairs, with some witnesses saying that Nabila had five people on top of her at one point.

Both Dani and Nabila were carried out of the club after being helped by both clubbers and emergency services, who gave them CPR.

The crush was finally ended at about 03.39 when a firefighter got behind the crowd at the top of the stairs via a fire escape. He gave an order to sound the fire alarm, which played a recorded evacuation message, and a fire crew started to evacuate people that way through fire exits.

In a narrative verdict, the jury decided that the most significant factors were the DJ announcements, the “lack of organisation and management of the cloakroom”, the crowd’s “attitude and behaviour” and “lack of monitoring and overlooking of the evening’s event”.

Eight of the 10-person jury believed the placement of the door staff was not a factor.

Much testimony was given on the subject of whether the club was over its 1,600 capacity. However, the coroner directed the jury that there was no strong evidence from anyone that there were too many people in Lava & Ignite that night.

Following the verdict Northamptonshire Police released a statement.

Superintendent Mick Stamper, said: “The jury has heard some devastating evidence from the people who were at Lava Ignite and it is clear what happened has had a lasting impact on many people, particularly the families and friends of Nabila Nanfuka and Laurene-Danielle Jackson, who have shown great dignity in the last four years.

“We worked with Northampton Borough Council to conduct a long and complex criminal investigation following which the Crown Prosecution Service determined there was not a realistic prospect for any of the criminal offences being considered.

“Today’s verdict has reflected on the unique set of circumstances which led to the deaths of Nabila and Dani, and I hope the people involved in hosting events such as this can take lessons from what happened, ensuring those who work within the industry are adequately trained to be able to manage and respond to unexpected incidents.”