Drinks 'served over bar where stabbed man was slumped and bleeding' in Wednesbury

A bar in Wednesbury continued to serve drinks over the same bar where a bleeding man was slumped having just been seriously stabbed, it was claimed at a licensing hearing.

Seven Bar, in Wednesbury
Seven Bar, in Wednesbury

Seven Bar, located on Lower High Street, was subject to a hearing on Friday following a review instigated by West Midlands Police's licensing team after multiple complaints were made by police officers and members of the public.

Councillors spent four hours debating whether to renew the venue’s licence, and were shown CCTV footage at the beginning of the meeting. It has now had its licence revoked.

Harjinder Singh Bagri had held the licence since July 2009, while Mr Anuj Panwar was appointed designated premises supervisor (DPS) and has been since December 2019.

At the hearing, police claimed up to 28 incidents of violent disorder took place around or associated with the premises and its customers over the last year.

In one incident on May 13, a man was stabbed in the lower back and required surgery. Police described it as “luck rather than judgement” the man survived.

Written representations by police, and discussed with Sandwell councillors, drinks were allegedly served across the same bar where the man was slumped. They also claimed people were allowed “in and out of the venue” after the stabbing.

Andrew Evans, a barrister for St Philips Circuit, and representing West Midlands police, claimed the bar had a “consistent pattern of undermining” their licence obligations.

He said: “This premises has over the last year or so been operated in such a way as to seriously and consistently undermine the licensing objectives. The police are extremely concerned. If it’s allowed to reopen on any terms, similar problems will reoccur and people will get hurt or worse.

“When you first read the papers before you it might at first glance have been difficult for you to believe the drinks were served across the same bar where the bleeding man was slumped, or the people were allowed in and out of the venue after the stabbing, or the CCTV in premises was not working as it should.

“It appears to the police to be that the premises licence holder is either unwilling or unable to do all that could reasonably be expected of him to manage the pressures that this premises faces. It appears [as a] knock-on effect of their trading style at the expense of people getting hurt, whether that’s customers or passers-by.”

During the meeting, Mike Deakin, a sergeant for Wednesbury police, claimed a number of CCTV cameras were also offline.

He said: “The hard drive [for the CCTV] was located in one area and you have to stretch a cable and lead across a sort of kitchenette area to then be able to use with one hand whilst looking at a big screen.

“My understanding is that, and I was there [when] we captured that footage, again, I think it might have been one of us trying to download footage from the cameras. I had to take particular items of electronic equipment to download footage from the second bar because it had one USB stick.

“I had to bring my own personal police phone […] to download the footage. What I would say is there is CCTV, but is it accessible?”

Duncan Craig, a licensing lawyer for Citadel Chambers representing Mr Bagri, explained while he found the way Mr Panwar had operated on the night of the stabbing was “wholly unacceptable”, he believed the licence holder, Mr Baghi, was adhering to standard practice in the hospitality industry.

He argued the licence should be suspended, but only until a new tenant could take hold of the property.

He said: “Mr Bagri has owned this premise for a number of years. He is the freehold to the premise, and operates under what is a well established business model. It’s the same model followed by Marstons […] Mr Bagri held the licence, but the licensed activities were held by the DPS.

“The behaviour of the [DPS] was wholly unacceptable. During the incident, the lights should have gone on. However, I do feel the need to defend the staff. The staff went behind the bar to help him.

“The police say it was ‘sheer luck’ the man did not die on the night. I don’t agree with that. I think the staff saved his life, and members of the public. The fact they didn’t use a first aid kit […] but I suppose when someone is bleeding out like that people use the first thing to hand to apply pressure.

“The call to the ambulance was made by a member of the staff, not the DPS. The DPS actually rang the licence holder up  to ask what to do, and he said to ring to police, and then the DPS did, which was clearly unacceptable. He should have taken more control of the situation.

“I don’t accept any drinks were made on the premise. Certainly through the CCTV camera one drink may have been handed over when the sale was already ongoing at the opposite end of the bar. It was rammed one side, and it’s a blind spot.

But councillor Peter Allen, the chair of the licensing committee, said: “Notwithstanding the provisions of the lease provided, as was pointed out the licence holder is ‘top of the tree” and should have taken all reasonable steps to protect his licence.

“The incident evidenced in the CCTV from May 2022 (customer stabbing) was deeply concerning to the sub-committee. The door management was inadequate, the CCTV coverage was inadequate, as was the protection of public and bar staff, and adherence to a dress code that had been announced though not as a formal condition or policy. The crime scene had been cleaned of blood on the floor of the premises.

“The DPS overseen by the licence holder should have produced management systems to prevent the scenes that occurred and previous incidents catalogued.

“The upholding of the licensing objectives are paramount and in this instance the view of the licensing sub-committee is that this can only be served by revoking the premises licence and not by replacing the DPS and adding conditions to the licence.”

The interim steps taken to suspend the licence will stay in place during the appeal period of 21 days if the decision is appealed to the magistrates court, until that appeal is disposed of.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News