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Coroner links nightclub knife attack to death of 'gangster' in mansion

A frenzied knife attack in a nightclub could provide a clue to the death of a suspected gangster who was shot at a Cheshire mansion, an inquest has heard.

Coroner Bernard Richmond QC, sitting at London's Royal Courts of Justice, said he needs to look at all "relevant" issues that may be linked to the death of security worker Stephen "Aki" Akinyemi, 44.

He died after being shot in the temple during a fight with Arran Coghlan at the businessman's home in Alderley Edge on February 9 2010.

The coroner said an attack in which Mr Coghlan was among three people who were stabbed at Cobdens nightclub in Stockport in the early hours of New Year's Day 2008 could be of interest.

He was speaking as the inquest heard a hooded man may have the prime suspect as the knifeman.

The coroner told Mr Akinyemi's brother John who was in the witness box: "My job as a coroner is to consider any evidence which maybe relevant.

"One of the matters which may be relevant is any potential motive or bad feeling for your brother.

"This episode is one such episode."

His comments were sparked by Mr Akinyemi's initial refusal to try and name who he thought were the brothers of the hooded man.

Mr Coghlan told an inquest in October 2011 Stephen Akinyemi pulled a gun on him and it went off during a struggle which saw him get stabbed several times.

Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg recorded an open verdict, saying he had "difficulty" accepting Mr Coghlan's version of events.

Mr Coghlan was initially accused of murdering Stephen Akinyemi.

The Crown Prosecution Service later dropped the charge because it could not prove Mr Coghlan, who suffered stab wounds, was not acting in self-defence.

Mr Akinyemi told the inquest that he did not think the knifeman was the hooded man.

He recalled being told it could have been anybody because it was a busy night and party-goers had come from another region for the festivities.

The coroner suggested a number of scenarios in which the nightclub stabbing could have happened.

He said it was possible that the stabbings had nothing to do with anybody who was spotted in CCTV images of the club.

It was possible he hooded man carried out the attack and "some of the people knew it was going to happen and were in on it", he added.

The coroner also suggested to Mr Akinyemi that maybe the hooded man was the attacker and "some people, potentially your brother, having been told what he had done, helped him get away".

Mr Akinyemi said he was not aware of any cover-up, adding: "I had no involvement and as far as I am concerned my brother had no involvement.

"I was not going to ask him because that was enough for me."

The Akinyemi killing is the third time Mr Coghlan has been cleared of murder.

In 1996 he was cleared of murdering alleged gangland enforcer Chris Little, who had been shot dead at the wheel of his Mercedes two years earlier.

In 2001 another drug dealer, David Barnshaw, 32, was kidnapped, forced to drink petrol and burned alive in the back of a car in Stockport.

Mr Coghlan was acquitted of leading the gang that tortured and killed him when it emerged that police failed to pass on important information about another possible suspect.

The coroner also ordered the arrest of a man who, Mr Coghlan's legal team claims, had been locked in a bitter row with Stephen Akinyemi because they used the same nickname.

The coroner described Phil Atkinson's absence from the inquest as "both voluntary and intentional".

He directed that Mr Atkinson be arrested and also said his mother, who said she would tell him to attend, may also be in trouble.

The coroner said Mr Atkinson's conduct is "putting her in jeopardy" and she must attend court on Friday if he does not show up.

The coroner said: "If he attends then she does not need to.

"If he lets his mother come down, he really is a bounder."

David Mason QC, representing Mr Coghlan, has previously told the inquest Mr Akinyemi was "upset that another man was using the same nickname".

The lawyer described the row as "constant", adding: "They both had Porsches with the number plate 'Aki'."

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