A Hove cocktail bar plagued by cocaine and brawls where two people have been seriously injured and a woman raped after leaving the venue highly drunk faces temporary closure.
Sussex Police has detailed a catalogue of incidents at Misty’s Cocktail Bar on Church Road, Hove, since the beginning of 2015, including two incidents of GBH, “alarmingly high” levels of cocaine throughout the venue, and the worst pub brawl one police officer had ever seen.
Police are asking that owner Afshin Kianifard is removed as designated premises supervisor, and a raft of measures including reduced hours, improved CCTV, plastic glasses, and hiring professional door staff.
It’s also asking that the venue’s licence is suspended for at least six weeks for these measures to be implemented.
But Mr Kianifard says he has already put in a raft of measures to tackle the issues, and has pleaded for more time to see if they are effective.
In a letter to Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing committee, which will meet to consider the licence review next Tuesday, Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell said: “This application has been submitted due to ongoing problems at the premises. These include assaults, public order offences and numerous incidents involving intoxication.
“In the last seven months, the premises saw two serious, ‘grievous bodily harm’ assaults with the victim in each case receiving life-changing injuries.
“There have been public order offences in the rear garden, one of which involved furniture and glass being thrown between groups of patrons.
“Many of the assaults have been carried out by intoxicated patrons and there have also been incidents whereby those who have become intoxicated at the venue have consequently suffered harm; this included a female who was attacked and sexually assaulted shortly after she left the premises.
“In addition to these incident, drug swab profiling, conducted on three occasions throughout 2016, indicated consistently high readings of cocaine within the premises; the areas tested including the bar areas as well as the toilets.
“Sussex Police have, on many occasions, raised these concerns with Afshin Kianifard … Despite this, incidents have continued to occur at Misty’s. Sussex Police content there have been continual failures by the management and staff to … prevent crime and disorder.”
However, Mr Kianifard says he has been trying hard to manage problems at the bar, and takes his responsibilities very seriously.
He said: “I find it extremely distressing that the most recent changes we have made and implemented since the end of December are not given the opportunity to illustrate they are working.
“We are turning away a substantial number of people if they do not fit into the profile we feel appropriate to enter the venue.
“Large groups are no longer permitted to enter. The door is secured after 10.30pm during the week [and 1.30am at weekends] which will allow individuals to be hand picked thus reducing any chance of incidents.
“Since the changes have been implemented, we have not had any incidents and I am confident that this will continue to be the case if we are simply given more time to illustrate this.”
Timeline of incidents
New Year’s Day 2015
Misty’s calls police after drunk man kicks windows and doors. The man leaves before police arrive.
17 January, 2015
Drunk woman cautioned after glassing doorman in retaliation for him pouring away her unfinished drink when time was called
7 February, 2015
A man receives a face injury after a brawl in the unsupervised beer garden
7 March, 2015
Woman complains her drink was spiked at Misty’s after not remembering how she had got home – friends said she had consumed a large amount of alcohol at the bar.
13 March, 2015
Manager calls police after customer smashes window. While officers attend, they see woman who had been kicked out of another bar allowed to go into Misty’s, and another customer leave the bar and vomit in the road.
4 April, 2015
Off duty and tipsy paramedic attempting to help heavily drunk woman who has fallen down the stairs is wrestled to the ground by door staff.
Another man tells police he was assaulted by a man who had thrown a glass at a wall, with the shards cutting him. He says door staff refused to call police, instead kicking him out for being drunk.
8 April, 2015
Mr Kianifard agrees to give his door staff training, although says he is happy with how they are behaving. He is also told he requires a non-frontline Security Industry Authority licence to manage them. This becomes active on 1 July, 2015.
14 June, 2015
Door staff call 999 because two men had become ‘really drunk in the bar’ and are refusing to leave. The men leave before police attend.
12 July, 2015
Mr Kianifard emails Sussex Police outlining changes made to venue, saying they had gone “above and beyond” in stopping DJs playing there.
4 August, 2015
Mr Kianifard says at a meeting that the venue has returned to its previous cocktail bar operation aimed at a mature crowd.
26 September, 2015
A man who got into an argument with a group while very drunk at Misty’s is chucked out and while walking up the road is hit on the back of the head, causing him to fall and injure his face. The case is closed because of a lack of witnesses or CCTV.
11 October, 2015
Woman says door staff pushed her as she held a toilet door closed for her friend. When the manager tells the bouncer to apologise, he again becomes aggressive and she alleges the door staff then refuse to allow her to leave, so she calls 999. Police investigate as a common assault.
23 January, 2016
Drug swab tests find “alarmingly high” levels of cocaine in the female and male toilets, which suggest a dealer is operating at the permises. The venue agrees to start random searches and remove flat surfaces.
6 February, 2016
A fight between two men inside Misty’s spills out into the street
20 February, 2016
A man is injured during a brawl between about ten men in the garden which continued for two or three minutes before door staff intervene while other customers hide from bottles being thrown at them. One bouncer refuses to provide a statement to police. CCTV footage shows one of the worst pub brawls the investigating officer has ever seen, but it is of too poor quality to identify the offenders and the case is closed.
After police see door staff allow a highly drunk woman into the bar, the manager tells officers she believes a particular bouncer is to blame. This bouncer is later replaced.
21 March, 2016
Drunk woman attacks another customer and throws a glass at door staff.
2 June, 2016
The manager calls 999 saying door staff are struggling to restrain a violent drunk man who was arguing with his similarly drunk partner. The man is taken home by door staff, who say they knew him, while the woman is allowed to continue drinking.
2 July, 2016
Man punches three men in the upstairs bar. One is knocked out, and has suffered a broken cheekbone, nose and jaw, leading to surgery to insert a metal plate into his cheek.
While securing the crime scene, another drunk customer tries to enter the upstairs bar and when arrested for being drunk and disorderly requires four officers to safely escort him to the police station while he tries to bite and spit at them.
The suspect, Gary Dawes, who had been allowed to leave, is found to be on the local banned list. Dawes, 41, of Saunders Park Rise, Brighton, has now been convicted and is currently awaiting sentence for GBH on Thursday, March 16.
3 July, 2016
The following day, police officers visit to talk about the assault and find more highly drunk customers inside.
8 July, 2016
Another drugs swab test finds more cocaine at high levels, and also ketamine.
23 July, 2016
A woman who has popped out of the bar to buy cigarettes is refused re-entry because her ID is in her handbag still inside the bar. Her friends and family become aggressive.
16 October, 2016
A man who has been chucked out of Misty’s for being drunk injures his head and hand in a brawl outside the venue.
19 November, 2016
A woman who had been allowed to get very drunk inside Misty’s was dragged into bushes along church road and raped by a man on her way home.
26 November, 2016
Police are called by a man who alleges he’s been assaulted by bouncers after being refused entry. While officers review the CCTV, an unrelated argument breaks out, leading one special constable to remove a woman from the bar. The original complainant is arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
28 November, 2016
Security staff called to Misty’s are assaulted by two drunk customers, one of whom swings a chair at them. A colleague who hears their calls for help on the radio calls police. Police arrive to find the two “exceedingly drunk” customers being restrained. On their way to the cells, they are placed in a spit hood and leg restraints. Cocaine is found on one, and the other other admits to snorting coke that evening.
10 December, 2016
A third drugs swab test finds yet more high levels of cocaine, plus MDMA, not just in the toilets but also the main bar and upstairs bar.
12 December, 2016
Mr Kianifard agrees to install an identification scanning machine along with other measures to tackle the continuing issues at the bar.
23 December, 2016
A drunk man is injured after an argument inside the bar continues outside, and another man sweeps his legs, causing him to fall and hit his head. A week later, he collapses and it’s found his skull is fractured, he has a blood clot on the brain and is showing signs of a suspected stroke.
He later tells police that he was drunk when he arrived at Misty’s, and was not asked to show any ID. his details aren’t recorded on the ID scanning machine.
The incident is currently being investigated as GBH.
24 December, 2016
Plain clothes officers observe “high levels of intoxication” at the premises, including a woman who walked into a door frame while leaving the toilet.
19 January, 2017
A man is dragged out of Misty’s by another customer following an argument. He says the door staff tried to persuade him not to call the police, and he wasn’t asked for any ID.