Warning for club where bouncer ‘pushed clubber down stairs’

A nightclub at risk of losing its licence has been let off with a warning – despite police concerns following a mass brawl, reports of underage clubbers and allegations of doormen hitting customers.

Life, in Sittingbourne High Street, will be allowed to continue operating due to changes made to its dispersal policy, door team and CCTV cameras.

Life is above the old Burton Store in Sittingbourne High Street

On Monday, Swale council, Kent Police, the club’s licence holder, Dr Haydn Pugh, and designated supervisor, Kevin Pearton, attended a licensing committee meeting to discuss the venue’s future.

PCs Andre Smuts and Dan Hunt wanted the venue to have conditions put in place, requiring bouncers to wear bodycams and for all revellers to be searched and have their IDs scanned before entry.

The force also asked for door supervisors to help with dispersing crowds at closing time, and to provide CCTV to officers on request.

PC Hunt gave evidence on five reported incidents there – one spoken about in a closed session as it was part of an ongoing investigation.

They took place between September last year and January.

Life in Sittingbourne

He said: “The calling of this premise licence review is not a decision that Kent Police come to lightly.

“Prior to the submission of the review application efforts were made to engage with the premises.”

PC Hunt explained the biggest concern was the lack of CCTV.

A blind spot in the outside smoking area meant there was no footage of one incident, in which a woman was hit on the head by a glass bottle thrown last September.

While staff gave her first aid, she claimed they refused to call her an ambulance.

Life nightclub has been given a warning by Swale's sub committee

PC Hunt continued: “The victim believes the premises refusing to call the ambulance was because they did not want to draw the attention of the emergency services to the venue.

“Once it was realised she was on the phone to the ambulance service, the victim states that she felt pressured by staff to leave the building.

“She was upset, had a head injury that was bleeding.

“The allegations that the premises had been negligent were addressed at the time.

“Mr Pearton, at the time, spoke to his door staff and they disputed the victim’s version of events.

Life is above an old Burton store

“Because of the lack of CCTV of the actual assault the criminal matter could not be investigated any further.

“Dr Pugh and the premises explained that an ambulance was called but the female declined an ambulance and refused to go to hospital and door staff were not negligent.

“However, in response to that the transcript of the 999 call that was made by the victim supports her version of events.

“It provides evidence that the victim did indeed call the ambulance and staff present refused to give the postcode of the premises when they realised the victim was calling the emergency services.”

PC Hunt went on to explain how on Friday, December 24, a door supervisor reportedly assaulted a customer by pushing him down the stairs and punching him in the face causing him to break his nose.

The side entrance to Life Nightclub in Sittingbourne

Despite multiple attempts to get CCTV from the premises, police said Life nightclub did not supply them with CCTV. The police said it hindered the investigation and was in part why the incident is no longer being investigated.

Another incident that involved a door supervisor allegedly assaulting a customer for ‘what appeared to be no apparent reason’ also saw problems with the police attaining CCTV, the hearing heard.

PC Hunt added: “Furthermore, despite having the appearance of door staff, the staff member involved is a non Security Industry Authority licensed person, not permitted to conduct door work.”

In response to the police’s evidence, Mr Thomas, spokesman and lawyer for Dr Pugh and Mr Pearton, said: “Life has held a licence since 2004.

“Mr Pearton has been involved with these premises for 17 years and there have been no complaints about his management and has a good record with working with the police.

“He wishes that to continue and certainly through me, wishes to apologise for any misconceptions or misunderstanding with regards to the CCTV.

“I can assure you now it is working with a new system we have in place and will always be readily available when requested.

“We can only apologise to the police for the fact that they have been let down very very badly in that regard.

“We accept that and a new system has been installed and new procedures put in place to prevent this happening going forward.”

Following noise complaints it was suggested that Life’s opening hours were reduced.

Swale Borough Council. Picture: Google Maps

However, at the end of the meeting it was concluded this would not be necessary.

Environmental health officer, Kevin Tucker, suggested the club closes at the same time as similar establishments in Sittingbourne such as The Vineyard.

Legal officer, Helen Ward concluded: “The sub-committee were concerned that the incidents had occurred but welcomed the measures that the premises had taken to address these.

“They considered the evidence put forward by the environmental health officer, however they were not satisfied that the evidence was substantiated and did not consider that any further steps were required.

“So the decision the committee has decided is to issue the premises a warning.”

PC Smut said: “Kent Police is happy with the outcome and look forward to working with the premises to keep the venue safe.”

Dr Pugh and Mr Pearton stated: “We’re delighted with the outcome and will continue working with the local authorities to keep Life going for many years to come.”

Kent Sittingbourne Megan Carr


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