Brixton Academy crush: Asake has not done enough say families

Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson
Image caption,Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson’s families still do not know what happened

By Adriana Elgueta & Greg McKenzie

BBC News, London

On 15 December 2022, a crush at Brixton Academy concert claimed two lives, and a third person remains critically ill.

Social media footage showed long queues of people, many thought to be ticketless, trying to gain entry to the sold-out gig by Afrobeats artist Asake.

A year later, the victim’s families feel they still don’t have answers and they’ve had no contact with the artist.

The police and the families are calling on the public for further evidence to find out how it happened.


In the days and weeks that followed, concerns were raised over the strength of the venue’s doors and staffing levels, including whether there was enough medical cover.

Gaby Hutchinson, 23, from Kent was a security contractor working that night.

Gaby’s sisters, Nina and Kelsey Hutchinson, say they don’t believe that Asake has done as much as he could.

Kelsey and Nina Hutchinson
Image caption,Kelsey (left) and Nina Hutchinson have said they wished artist Asake would do more

Kelsey said: “The main person who can help is Asake.

“He’s not done nearly enough for the families. Maybe enough for himself.

“He’s used Gaby’s name in his speeches and concerts but he’s not done anything to support the investigation.

“He has a voice, he can use it for good. He could come forward to his fans and ask for support with the appeals.

“These people had cameras and there are statements that they can give.”

Nina added: “Reliving everything happened a year ago, it never gets any easier. Gaby will always be the person who should be there and who is missing.

“We’re living this real time and we still don’t have those answers.”

Rebecca's parents Yetunde Olodo and Anthony Ikumelo
Image caption,Rebecca’s parents were not told the venue is reopening

Mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, from Stratford, east London, also died in the crush.

Speaking of Asake, Rebecca’s parents, Yetunde Olodo and Anthony Ikumelo, said the musician had not reached out to them either.

Mr Ikumelo said: “Asake has been back to the country twice since the incident and twice he hasn’t checked in to the families to ask us how we’re coping.

“Maybe he doesn’t want to contact us but he should do what he thinks is right.

“It’s been a year but for us it feels like last week.

“What makes it so painful is that we are still waiting for answers: we don’t understand why this happened.

“Rebecca went to see her idol and never returned home.”

The south London music venue’s licence was suspended shortly after last December following heavy criticism in the aftermath of the incident.

The venue faced permanent closure after the Met Police urged the council to remove its licence.

Following a two-day hearing in September, Lambeth Council’s licensing sub-committee voted to allow the venue to continue operating – so long as it met “77 extensive and robust new conditions”.

These 77 conditions include:

  • Stronger doors
  • New crowd management systems
  • More detailed risk assessments
  • A new ticketing system
  • A centralised control and command centre
  • New security and management.

Speaking about the building’s reopening, Mr Ikumelo, said: “We understand that eventually it’s going to open – but why can’t we wait for the police investigation to finish?

“Secondly, we weren’t contacted at all when they concluded that it was going to reopen.

“We don’t have a say on this. But at least they could have the decency to tell us and ask how we are coping. Not doing this, I think, was wrong.”

‘Shredded our family’

Kelsey agreed, adding: “We understand that it is a historic building and that it needs to reopen. But they need to commemorate the people [who were] lost there.

“Gaby and Rebecca lost their lives and possibly a third person, we don’t know.”

She called for some respect to be shown towards the victims.

Nina said: “They say it’s ‘lessons learnt’. But for us it’s not a lesson. It’s completely changed our lives and shredded our family.

“Maybe it should not be [the venue’s owner] in [charge in] the future. Maybe it should be someone [else] or at least they should have a massive reshuffle.”

A spokesperson for the venue’s owner, Academy Music Group (AMG), said a timeline for when it will reopen will be announced.

The O2 Brixton Academy the morning after the crush
Image caption,The O2 Brixton Academy remains closed

Det Ch Insp Nigel Kenny from the Met Police said the investigation is continuing.

“We’re still going through thousands of documents to ascertain how this happened. But we still need help from [those who] were there. Even though it’s 12 months, we still need people to come forward,” he said.

He added that the force has CCTV images of 13 people it would like contact who, the police believe, can answer questions about what they saw.

13 people sought by police
Image caption,The Met Police have released images of 13 people to they think can help

A spokesperson for ANG said: “ANG continues to be devastated by the events of 15 December 2022 and our heartfelt condolences remain with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson.

“What happened was and is a tragedy. Over the past year we have been driven by determination to learn all appropriate lessons from that night to ensure it can never be repeated.

“We are pleased that the comprehensive plan for reopening the venue met with the approval of Lambeth licensing sub-committee.

“AMG is working hard to implement the new conditions before welcoming fans back to O2 Academy Brixton.

“There will be an announcement for the reopening timeline in due course.”

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “We stand ready to meet with the bereaved families to listen to their concerns and discuss the issues. In making its decision the licensing sub-committee was clear that its role wasn’t to assign blame or punishment to individuals or other bodies for past failings. It was not to exonerate them either.

“Their decision had to focus on what, if any, appropriate measures are needed for the venue to safely re-open. They also emphasised that their decision was based solely on what was put before them at the hearing.”

Asake’s representatives have been approached for comment.

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