Brixton Academy to reopen for the first time since fatal crush

The Brixton Academy is set to reopen tonight following more than a year of uncertainty after a deadly crush at a concert which killed two people.

Security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were killed when fans without tickets tried to force their way into a performance by Nigerian artist Asake, on December 15, 2022.

In January 2023, Lambeth council suspended the venue’s licence for three months while the investigation into the incident continued.

In April last year, the 4,900 capacity venue came under threat of permanent closure after the Met submitted an application to the council calling on the venue to be stripped of its licence completely. 

At the time, an Academy Music Group spokeswoman said: “Academy Music Group has co-operated fully with the Met and Lambeth council since the tragedy at Brixton occurred.

From Left, Gaby Hutchinson and Rebecca Ikumelo (Pictures: The Met)

“We have had regular meetings and discussions at which we have presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely.”

After a two-day hearing in September last year, a licensing sub-committee voted to allow the venue to reopen – on the condition it met a long list of “extensive” improvements.

The first performers at the reopened venue will be Nirvana UK, a Nirvana tribute band, and The Smyths, who perform tracks by The Smiths.

Brixton Academy has also confirmed a second event on April 26, which will see Definitely Mightbe – a tribute act to Oasis – followed by UK Food Fighters  – a Foo Fighters tribute band. 

The Met says it remains “focused on establishing exactly what happened that evening”.

The victims’ families previously paid tribute to Ms Ikumelo and Ms Hutchinson.

Ms Hutchinson’s sister, Kelsey Hutchinson, said: “Our lives will never be what they used to be, we have gaps and it’s trying to find a new normal. 

Police officers outside Brixton O2 Academy after a large crowd tried to force their way into the south London concert venue (Picture: PA)

“Because we don’t have the answers, we’re still waiting for investigations to be completed, we’re still in a situation where we don’t know why. 

“I think if we could get to that point, that might help us. No one should ever go to work and not come home.” 

Police have released images of 13 people they believe have vital information about what happened.

Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney, leading the investigation, said: “We remain focused on establishing exactly what happened that tragic evening, how Rebecca and Gaby came to lose their lives and why a young woman remains in hospital in a very serious condition a year later. 

“I am grateful to those who have already helped by either speaking to police, sharing footage or providing us with valuable advice.

“We owe it to the families who have been left heartbroken and with many unanswered questions to establish the truth about what happened.

“There were thousands of people at the venue that evening, we have released images of 13 men I would like to speak to as I believe they have vital information. I urge them to get in touch as soon as possible.”

Pictured top: Brixton Academy with police cordons (Picture: Robert Firth)

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