By Kim Heinz and Funmi Anita Badmus
Friends of a Kingston University student killed by the nightclub crush in Northampton last month are calling for tougher regulation of music venues.
Laurene-Danielle Jackson, 19, who was also known as Tiffany, died in hospital of her injuries two weeks after the incident – by which time the Lava Ignite club had had its operating licence suspended by the local council.
“You do not expect this to happen in a place where you go to just enjoy yourself,” said a friend of Laurene who did not want to be named.
He described the intense heat, crowding and sense of danger among the 1,300-plus in the club and said: “I do not want this to happen to anyone else.”
Friends of the second-year psychology and criminology student argue that there should be more trained security guards at venues and that police should be involved more closely in overseeing big events.
An estimated 1,300 students from around the UK attended the hip-hop and R&B night at Lava Ignite and witnesses said that students rushed for the exits near the end of the event following an announcement that coaches were leaving soon to take them home.
A fire alarm went off, adding to the confusion.
“It was jam-packed and people were climbing over each other like animals,” said another of Laurene’s friends. “We were told she must have fallen or been pushed down the stairs.”
The crush, on 19 October, also claimed the life of a 22-year-old Northampton University student, Nabilia Nanfuka, while seven others were injured.
As police investigations continued, club owners Luminar Group insisted that the industry was heavily regulated and stressed that Lava Ignite met all the relevant health and safety standards.
“Every club is issued a licence by the local authority which has conditions to which we have to comply with when we trade,” said Stephen Lynn, Luminar’s head of marketing.
“In regards to safety, every club has a minimum number of door team according to its capacity. The local authority dictates the minimum amount of door team that the club has.”
Luminar, which also owns Oceana in Kingston and dozens of other clubs around the UK, has gone into administration since the accident for financial reasons unrelated to the stampede.
The administrators have said that Lava Ignite will not reopen.
Laurene’s death has prompted many warm tributes from lecturers and friends at Kingston University, who remembered her as a bubbly young woman who was full of promise.
Read a tribute to Laurene-Danielle Jackson in the next issue of the The River this Friday.