Zoe Birdsall and Lily Kemp
Kingston Oceana has appealed the decision to revoke its licence in a final bid to keep its doors open.
Oceana claim that had the fatal stabbing of Jamie Sanderson, 20, happened in any other club the outcome of investigations would likely have been very different.
“Due to the sophisticated security systems in place in the club the police have been able to arrest and charge four men.
“If this crime happened anywhere else, it is highly likely these individuals would still be walking our streets,” said Peter Marks, CEO of Luminar Groups which owns the 2500 plus capacity club.
Oceana linked to 25 per cent of Kingston crime
Club owners believe their security measures exceed those outlined under the terms of their licence, despite Oceana being linked to 25 per cent of Kingston’s entire crime rate.
“The safety and security of our customers is and always has been our main priority. The club has one of the most sophisticated search and security procedures of any nightclub in the UK, including the use of ID scanners, metal detection arches and wands, over 100 CCTV cameras, a large team of fully trained and regulated door staff and an on-site paramedic,” said Mr Marks.
The licence of Kingston’s largest club was revoked after members at a Kingston council meeting on November 20 concluded it was the “only appropriate response” following the death of Mr Sanderson and other concerns raised by police and local residents.
Revoking licence was “disproportionate and inappropriate”
“Having considered our position, we are going to appeal as we believe that the decision to revoke our licence was disproportionate and inappropriate,” said Mr Marks.
Club officials said: “The club will remain open until a decision is made. We expect this to take months, not weeks.”
If, however, the club fails to win its appeal it is estimated that 200 local residents and Kingston students will lose their jobs.
The date of the appeal hearing that will determine the fate of Oceana has not yet been set.
Jamie Sanderson’s mother ‘outraged’
The victim’s mother, Carol Sanderson, is outraged that the club has decided to open so soon after the tragic death of her son and has subsequently made the decision to sue the super-club because of “negligent door staff”.
She is also upset that she never received an apology after her son’s murder.
She said: “Security has been exposed, but still they want to open their club to make money. It is disrespectful to me and to my son’s memory for them to re-open so soon.”
Mr Marks clarified that the club did not make an apology to Sanderson’s family because they were following advice from the police.
He said: “We continue to cooperate fully with the police investigation and, as such, have been advised not to comment on specifics to avoid prejudicing the outcome of a criminal trial.”
What KU students think
Despite Oceana’s decision to appeal, some Kingston students believe the club should remain closed according to a previous poll carried out by The River which showed that over two-thirds of 100 asked wanted the club to shut down.
Sian Milliner, a third-year history of arts student, said: “Given all of the statistics that came out of the hearing about how dangerous the club is, I don’t know why anyone would want to go there anyway. It seems pointless for them to appeal if half the town doesn’t want to go there.”
Third-year film studies student William Fox said: “A night in Oceana is not about spending time with friends, but instead to practice orienteering.
If the club actually closes it will be so good to be able to see the telephone boxes on Old London road on a Friday night not littered with chavs, sick and girls in belts for dresses.”
The men charged in connection with stabbing
Brandon Francis, 19, and Ashley Milne, 22, both of Peckham and Benjamin Onwuma, 20, from Walworth, have already been charged with murder and will appear in court on January 4 2013.
A fourth man, Levan Greenfield, of no fixed address, has been arrested in relation to the stabbing.