Sobering warning over nightclub crime reports

A Grand Cayman nightclub located in a shopping mall at the center of a high-traffic tourism area reported 11 incidents of crime to police since June, according to testimony at a public meeting Wednesday.

The “incidents” include a stabbing, assaults, theft, serving liquor after hours and a number of public order-related offenses that occurred both inside and outside the premises of Nectar Nightclub in the Seven Mile Shops.

Nectar, which was placed on probation earlier this year by the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman, was left on probation status, and its representatives were warned that the club could lose its license if it didn’t clean up its act.

The club, which has changed its name a number of times over the past decade, is located at the back of the Seven Mile Shops in an area of West Bay Road that is a popular footpath for tourists on the southern end of Seven Mile Beach.

“Eleven reports … is too much, your establishment is a problem,” Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Chief Inspector Angelique Howell told Nectar operator Luis Lopez, who attended Wednesday’s liquor board meeting. He was seeking permission to add a DJ booth in his establishment. After deliberating, the board granted permission.

“We will not be supporting any liquor license for you (referring to Mr. Lopez) if you cannot control these behaviors,” Ms Howell said.

Mr. Lopez told board members that he was aware of some incidents, including one recently that involved two females fighting in the bathroom of the club, which resulted in one of the women being wounded. He also noted that a number of incidents reported had occurred outside the club, where groups of drunk and obnoxious individuals gathered after hours.

“I know these things happen, but what can I do?” Mr. Lopez said. “If anybody fights, the only thing I can do is call the police.”

Mr. Lopez said that at its busiest times, Nectar has three security guards inside the club. However, Mr. Lopez said he cannot afford to have guards outside the club as well. He urged the police to increase patrols in the area around closing time, particularly on Saturday mornings.

“I don’t want to have four or five security [guards] when they charge you $10 per hour. I can’t afford that,” he said.

A number of other businesses operate out of the Seven Mile Shops, but none are nightclubs that operate past midnight.
Chief Inspector Howell seemed incredulous at Mr. Lopez’s response during the board’s Wednesday meeting.  

“You’re just taking it as relaxed as possible, people getting stabbed in your bathroom, people getting their head popped open, and your response is ‘What can I do?’ It’s your establishment,” Ms Howell said. “The police don’t accept that.”

Liquor License Inspector Gavin Dixon told the board that the problem wasn’t all to do with Nectar Nightclub.

“Especially after the smaller bars have closed down, you have certain other persons coming around and hanging around in alleyways and such,” Mr. Dixon said. “Sometimes, things happen outside the bar … they’ve never entered the club, but they hang around. Obviously, you have ladies walking in and out, and these people are very aggressive in those areas.

These persons are very drunk and very aggressive.

“Yes, [Mr. Lopez] does need to ensure Nectar is maintained properly, but [with a security guard], I don’t see what they’re going to do if something happens.”

Board chairman Mitchell Welds said he understood Mr. Lopez’s request for greater police presence, but noted that Nectar is only one of the liquor licensed premises that police have to monitor. “You can’t have police presence there all the time,” Mr. Welds said.

He urged business owners in the Seven Mile Shops plaza to get together with the strata management to work out a security solution.

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