Woman and her friend locked themselves in a toilet as large-scale brawl erupted at Wigan nightspot

A woman and her friend locked themselves in the toilets of a Wigan nightspot to hide from a ‘large scale brawl’ and feared someone would be killed, police have said.

Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 5:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:49 am
Casino de Cuba in Wigan town centre

This incident at Casino de Cuba, along with other reported outbreaks of violence last month, triggered a review of the town centre venue’s licence.

But the owners have disputed the police’s accounts and maintained the popular restaurant and bar does not have an issue with disorder.

Greater Manchester Police had called for the licence to be suspended but councillors opted to cut the hours of operation and made an order for more door staff to be employed.

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These are interim measures pending a full licence review scheduled to take place next month.

Owner Andy Ballard, who represented the venue at the latest hearing, said the reports had been exaggerated.

He said: “If it was that bad they would have shut us down for 28 days, but they didn’t. I attended the committee with a solicitor and our head door man, we kept our licence.”

On the night the two customers had to ‘seek refuge’ in the toilets, the brawl spilled out onto the streets and one man was viewed on CCTV ‘using his belt wrapped around his hand as a knuckle duster/weapon’, police said.

The customer, who called 999, told police she feared ‘someone will be killed’ and officers noted the ‘panic’ in her voice, the report added.

Hours earlier, in a separate incident on March 24, a male customer suffered a fractured eye socket and lost several teeth after he was ‘punched to the head from behind several times’.

According to police incident records, when the victim asked a member of door staff for help, he was told ‘he must have deserved the assault’ and that ‘patrons in the premises were just one happy family.’

No first aid was offered and no calls to the police were made, the report adds.

Mr Ballard said CCTV showed the numbers involved in the ‘brawl’ was ‘four rather than 20’.

And he said the customer who approached the member of door staff for help did not provide a name or employee number.

He said: “There’s no evidence or statements, he could have spoken to anyone, did that person identify themselves as door staff? Nothing was reported to management.”

A further ‘large scale fight’ that occurred a week later on March 31 was also highlighted in GMP’s submission.

This incident, a few feet from the bar’s doorway, had been reported by staff from a nearby nightspot.

“Initially a member of door staff can be seen trying to separate the parties but returns to the side of Casino de Cuba.

“A male can be seen pinned to the floor where he receives a severe beating by punches to the head,” a police account of CCTV footage reads.

Mr Ballard said the incident did not involve customers from Casino de Cuba.

He added it was the police’s responsibility to deal with disorder in the streets and his door staff should not be put in danger.

The force’s application for a licence suspension, submitted by PC Clive Rigby, notes no calls were made to the police or the council’s central watch team from anyone associated with the venue and nothing was recorded in its incident book in relation to these incidents.

The application reads: “In my opinion, this serious crime and disorder is due to the excessive hours of operation at this premises.

“The licence holder has insufficient procedures in place to deal with drunkenness or provide an acceptable level of safety to customers.”

Casino de Cuba had been licensed to sell alcohol until 4am from Thursday to Sunday, 1am on Wednesdays and midnight on Monday and Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Wigan Council said the outcome of the urgent review hearing was a reduction in hours, until 1am over the weekend and 12pm every other day and employment of more door staff to adhere to the licensing objectives for the prevention of crime.

A full review hearing is expected to take place next month.

Mr Ballard added he would work with the police in the meantime and emphasised the venue has safety measures in place – such as the number of door staff employed and its use of CCTV – above the requirements of its licence.