Hove cocktail bar in trouble over brawls, cocaine and vicious attacks

Posted On 07 Mar 2017 at 1:12 pm

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.

27 February
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.

  1. Francesca Reply

    How is it that respectable wine bars like the Paris Wine Bar can’t get a late licence, whereas places like Mistys, where there is violence are granted one?

  2. Siobhan Gibson Reply

    This bar sounds awful, but could you remove the line about the poor woman who was raped on her way home? The way you’ve reported it frames the incident as though the rape was her fault for drinking heavily, or the bar’s fault for “allowing her to”. Intoxication does not place the blame of an assault on the victim; to imply that her assault was connected to the fact that she drank at Misty’s is lazy and irresponsible.

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      I completely appreciate your point, and was careful to word it to avoid putting blame on the victim. However, I don’t agree that the assault wasn’t connected to the fact she was heavily intoxicated – it did make her more vulnerable to attack, and less capable of defending herself.

      The council’s licensing objectives, which the bar is charged with upholding as part of its licensing conditions, include not allowing people to become excessively intoxicated, and one of the reasons for this is that it makes people more vulnerable to becoming victims of crime. Bartenders are expected not to serve people who are drunk. Therefore, it’s relevant to the licensing review, and therefore the story.

      I would stress that I don’t wish to imply any blame to the victim here though.

      • Mark Stack Reply

        Jo, your comments are a little contradictory here and I agree with the poster you replied to.
        You state that there is no implied blame to the victim for getting raped, that she was drunk is no excuse for the crime committed on her. But playing devils advocate here why is their blame on the bar for the crime being committed on her? If a woman being drunk because she’s taken a lot of alcohol and made that decision to drink so much; I totally agree it is still not her fault – it the fault of the rapist who raped her. So why is some of blame for rape suddenly taken away from the rapist and partially placed on the bar staff ?
        There is no evidence in your report that say the bar staff continued to serve her even though they thought she was drunk. It may have been she was drinking from a bottle in her handbag. It could have been her friends bought her drinks. It could be that bar staff refused her and that’s why she left there. It really could have been anything. We really do not know.

        My point here is that so many bars get tarnished by stereotypical associations rather than plain facts.
        Sometimes the media take on face value the the reports the authority bodies without thinking about it, checking it through or be careful how they write it. As an example when an alternative media outlet quoted police evidence as pure fact (given to licensing committee) that the Northern Lights had 300 people in it when Police visited the premises. Any who has been in the Northern Light knows you would physically struggle to get 100 people in that building let alone 300.
        Over the clear facts about this bar I’m in totally agreement those details should come out. However to infer any blame on the bar staff for a rapist’s crime on this poor lady is wrong.

  3. Mario Reply

    This place is very nasty bar where people going in there to make problems and not safe at all

  4. Jamil Ahmed Reply


  5. Harry T Reply

    The incidents’ timeline may seem over the top to the average person but this is the reality of night life in UK, not only in Mistys.

    Most venues don’t keep accurate logs and they avoid reporting incidents in order to keep their licences.

    Staff face abuse, have to deal with false allegations and at the same time risk losing their job if they deny service/entry to customers that “support” the venue.

    The UK night life is rotten to the core.

  6. mal Reply

    Never sure how Mistys got such a late licence in this area, totally out of step with everything nearby. Hopefully more sensible hours will now be imposed.

  7. Dead Preacher Reply

    Had some great nights at mistys over the years. Was only a matter of time until the fun police came down on it.

  8. Simon Reply

    A woman gets a caution for glassing a man! Typical of the police to take D.V against a man from a woman so lightly

    • Simon Reply

      What makes you think it was domestic violence?

  9. Mirek Reply

    I worked there for 3 years so I could write a book full of stories like this 🙂

  10. Misty's Fan Reply

    I love Misty’s, if the owners just remove or ban the two or three groups that do all of the above it wouldn’t be closing. It isn’t as rowdy as it’s making it out to be. I live down the road and I come here 3/4 times a week and have only ever really seen 1 or two fights in 3 years and always the same guys. Don’t close down Misty’s, close down the problem.

  11. Vita Reply

    Yes, the problem is how UK consumers drink – binge. And,yes, proprietor needs to take responsibility for the business he runs. I am a regular at Misty’S . Since it has opened its doors 15 years or so ago , the bar has been our favorite in Brighton. We have seen this bar at its best. We met amazing people here and stayed friends (with no nonsense described in the article). I can’t say I have seen any of the incidents described above, but I think I will agree that weekend clientele needs to be csieved out by bouncers. I can see changes in business to prevent drug use – no flat surfaces in toilets, and I am sure the owner will do everything to keep his regulars from the “nobbheads”. So , getting back to my first sentence – problems is in the system (allowing binge drink) and, therefore, responsibility of the society, police, bar owener…

  12. Awesome Reply

    I think they are trying to work on the problems, just on the wrong people!!! last time I visited, my friend and I were let in, allowed to drink a 1/4 of our cocktail (we paid £16 for two) & then told we were to intoxicated and had to leave! I argued this decision (plain ridiculous after what we had) so we were allowed to finish it & then apparently had to go!

  13. sarah Reply

    God hope this dusgusting place is finaly closed down. Their lack of care towards their regular customers is beyond atrocious. Imagine what we dont know about/things that havent been reported and all the people just going for an innocent drink who end up vulnerable in that pkace and in danger by the way its run. I have first experience of the security when they dont do their job properly and I for one would have more intellegence than to dribk there and in their care and hospitality.

  14. Marc Reply

    Been having a regular drink there for few months now and i honestly don t see where all this negativity comes from, people getting drunk and fights break out due to people being well idiots really, nothing that hasn t been said about any brighton cocktail bar lol. here the staff is friendly, well done cocktails and do like the garden area

  15. s Reply

    Money laundering hotspot. Got to love Church Road.

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