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Nightclub crush inquest told of 'chaotic' scenes

Published 02/11/2015

Police outside the Lava and Ignite night club in Northampton after the tragedy
Police outside the Lava and Ignite night club in Northampton after the tragedy

There were "chaotic" scenes at a nightclub before a deadly crush which claimed the lives of two students, an inquest has heard.

Nabila Nanfuka, 22, and Laurene-Danielle Jackson, 19, both from London, were killed after an incident at the Lava and Ignite nightclub in Northampton in 2011.

During an inquest into their deaths, a jury was told of a log-jam of clubbers building in the cloakroom area as coaches came to collect people and take them home.

Assistant coroner Belinda Cheney said: "Apparently there was unprecedented demand for the cloakroom as it was a cold night.

"The cloakroom evidently became very chaotic with people wanting to leave for 2.40am and belongings couldn't be found."

When DJs announced coaches were starting to leave the club at about 3.10am on October 19, there was a movement of people from the nearby dancefloor to the staircase leading out, via the busy cloakroom area.

Ms Cheney said: "A lot of people ended up being jammed in the cloakroom area" with "a number of people converging on the staircase and getting stuck".

Officers from Northamptonshire Police had been called shortly before midnight to assist with crowd control outside the event but inside "people were enjoying themselves".

Ms Cheney said that the emergency services were called inside the Wickedest Wickedest R'n'B event several hours later.

She said: "Much later, a crush developed sometime around 3.44am."

The coroner added: "At this time police and fire service entered in response to a club call for people trapped in a lift and ambulances were called to a woman having a panic attack."

Ms Nanfuka, from Neasden in North London, was studying a leisure and tourism degree at the University of Northampton. She died at Northampton General Hospital on October 19.

Ms Jackson, from Wembley, was studying psychology at Kingston University and died at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital on November 6.

Both were found unconscious inside the club in the early hours, and died as a result of asphyxia brought on by a crush.

After the jury of six women and four men were sworn, assistant coroner Belinda Cheney told them: "This is not a public inquiry but an inquest is an inquiry into death. That involves looking at how these two women came by their deaths."

She also told the jury they would not be determining "any question of criminal or civil liability".

Jurors have already visited the former site of the nightclub which is now a gym.

The inquest is scheduled to last three weeks.

Last year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) determined there would be no criminal charges brought against anyone following the "tragedy".

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