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O2 Academy Brixton to reopen 16 months after deadly crowd crush killed two people

The O2 Academy Brixton has announced it will reopen in April, 16 months after it was closed following a crowd crush that killed two people.

Security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were killed when fans without tickets tried to force their way into a show by Nigerian Afrobeats artist Asake on December 15, 2022.

A 22-year-old woman is also understood to remain in hospital in a serious condition following the incident.

The O2 Academy announced on its X account on Monday morning it is to reopen on April 19, with a run of performances by tribute bands, more than a year after it was shut in the wake of the tragedy.

The venue previously played host to some of the world’s biggest music stars, including Kings of Leon, Amy Winehouse, The Clash, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Kasabian, Florence and the Machine, and Blur.

The venue faced permanent closure after the Metropolitan Police urged Lambeth Council to remove its licence.

But following a two-day hearing in September, the council’s licensing sub-committee voted to allow the venue to continue operating, as long as it meets “77 extensive and robust new conditions”.

Around 1,000 people were outside the famous venue and police found “large-scale disorder” with crowds eventually pushing the doors open, according to Gerald Gouriet KC, who represented the Metropolitan Police at an earlier licensing meeting.

The company which owns the Brixton Academy, Academy Music Group (AMG), said it had developed new safety measures in an effort to have its licence restored, including stronger doors, a better queuing system and more secure ticketing.

AMG said changes to its operating policies had been developed by “leading professionals” to prevent a repeat of last year’s events.The venue spent £1.2 million on maintenance and improvements last year, despite being closed, a hearing was told.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died following the crowd crush (PA Wire)
Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died following the crowd crush (PA Wire)

The post on venue’s social media on Monday said: “O2 Academy Brixton will reopen on Friday 19 April with Nirvana UK (tribute to Nirvana) and The Smyths (tribute to The Smyths), followed by Friday 26 April with Definitely Mightbe (tribute to Oasis) and UK Foo Fighters (tribute to Foo Fighters).”

Its website also showed three mid-week listings for May.

Mother-of-two and nursing graduate Rebecca Ikumelo, from Newham in east London, also died in hospital two days after the crowd crush, from injuries she had sustained.

Her family described her in a statement as “an adorable mother of two children who loved working with kids”.

“She was well respected in the family for her care, kindness and love,” they said.

Ms Ikumelo left behind two sons, then aged four and seven, one of whom is autistic.

She was well-known on TikTok and YouTube, where she regularly posted videos about parenting an autistic child.

Gaby Hutchinson died in hospital following the crowd crush (PA Wire)
Gaby Hutchinson died in hospital following the crowd crush (PA Wire)

Gaby Hutchinson was on duty during Asake’s O2 Academy Brixton show, when ticketless fans stormed the venue.The 23-year-old, from Gravesend in Kent, died in hospital several days later, from injuries sustained in the incident.In a tribute shared with the BBC, family members said: “Gaby has brought so much love, laughter and inappropriate jokes into our lives and will forever be our baby, our daughter, our sister, our man and our joy.

“Getting 23 years of Gaby’s life was a blessing and one we will never forget. Gaby will forever live on in our hearts.

“No-one should go to work and not come home. But Gaby protected those they loved fiercely and it was the same with Gaby’s job.”