Night spots under watch

Two night spots are paying a price for recent violent incidents.

A Bodden Town bar has had its Music and Dancing Licence suspended and its liquor licences placed on probation following a recent fatal stabbing that occurred there.

And following the most recent violent incident at a West Bay Road nightclub, the licensee has himself taken the initiative to close the club for the time being.

Meanwhile, representatives from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the Liquor Licensing Board met last week to discuss issues relating to issues of disorder at some licensed premises.

As a result of the recent tragedy at the Everglo (Pit Stop) Bar & Restaurant in Bodden Town, the Liquor Licensing Board has made a decision to suspend the bar’s Music and Dancing Licence.

This means that the playing of music from the juke box, sound systems operated by a disc jockey, stereos and live bands are strictly prohibited until the Board reviews the matter again in June 2008.

The Retail and Restaurant Liquor Licenses for Everglo have also been placed on probation until June. The probation status means the board must review the club’s licences at its next meeting in June.

On the evening of 22 into 23 February around midnight a 21-year-old man was stabbed in the throat during a fight outside the Everglo Bar. The victim, Aaron William Berry, was later pronounced dead at hospital.

A suspect was arrested and charged following the incident.

Meanwhile, licensee of Pepper’s Nightclub on West Bay Road, Lloyd Samson, said he is concerned over the most recent incident at his club and made his own decision to close the club over the Easter period, a situation that will remain in effect for the time being.

The incident, the second major one of violence involving patrons of Pepper’s Nightclub within the last month, resulted in a man getting stabbed in the back at the club early last Wednesday morning, 19 March.

Police have said the victim is expected to survive the injury.

Mr. Samson expressed hope for a speedy recovery of the victim. ‘It couldn’t be business as usual while he’s in intensive care,’ he said.

Mr. Samson said he will await news on how the investigation of the incident is progressing before he takes any further steps with the nightclub.

A man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in connection with the stabbing soon after it occurred, and remained in police custody without charge Tuesday morning, according to police.

Following this incident at Pepper’s Nightclub, a press release from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said officers work hard investigating incidents that are connected to licensed premises, but also focus strongly on preventing them from occurring in the first place. This includes deploying significant additional resources.

‘Officers are continuously visiting licensed premises to observe what is happening, deter crime and disorder and build relationships with staff and security personnel,’ said Commissioner of Police Mr. Stuart Kernohan. ‘For example, on busy evenings up to 40 officers are on duty patrolling the streets, the nightclubs and the bars. These figures include special constables and we thank them for their continued support and dedication to the Cayman Islands.

‘It is disappointing that some license holders do not appear to be taking these incidents as seriously as we do. Tackling this issue is not solely a job for the police. There are three main areas of responsibility; with the police, with the liquor licensing board and with the license holders themselves who have a responsibility to ensure their premises are safe for their customers. Police operations will target those premises and surrounding areas that are identified as causing problems. ‘

Mr. Kernohan added that if the community wants to assist and show their support for efforts to increase safety in bars they should avoid establishments that are not taking precautions to protect their customers.

Mr. Kernohan met last week with representatives of the Liquor Licensing Board to discuss various issues and try to identify solutions. A bar watch scheme has been proposed for the West Bay Road area. The scheme would see bars and restaurants communicating more regularly and consistently about issues affecting the industry. The objectives of the scheme include reducing violence, reducing the use of illegal drugs, identifying underage drinking and curbing drunkenness.

The previous incident at Pepper’s Nightclub happened on 23 February and involved a man who had just left Pepper’s being shot in the face through a car window. The victim in the shooting was treated and released from hospital and a suspect has been arrested and charged in the attack.

Pepper’s Nightclub had been placed on probation following a Liquor Licensing Board meeting earlier this month.