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Gallery nightclub landlord applies for shadow licence for 'protection' after Andre Bent 'murder' in Maidstone

The landlord of a nightclub which had its licence suspended in the wake of a suspected murder has made an application to "protect" the club from any future controversy.

Andre Bent, 21, was fatally stabbed in a huge brawl in Jubilee Square, Maidstone, following a performance by rapper MoStack, real name Montell Daley, at Gallery in Bank Street last summer.

Police and forensics outside the Gallery Nightclub. Picture: Jim Bennett
Police and forensics outside the Gallery Nightclub. Picture: Jim Bennett

Thirteen people have since been arrested, including a 16-year-old boy who is accused of Mr Bent’s murder, and will go on trial later this year.

Police applied to review the club’s premises licence, which was suspended ahead of a formal hearing in October.

At that hearing the council committee decided Gallery could reopen providing it met some 22 agreed conditions, including making sure all visitors are scanned for knives.

Day-to-day management of the venue, which has held a number of events since welcoming punters back on Halloween, has since changed hands but landlord, Century Buildings (Rochester) Limited, has now applied for what is known as a shadow licence.

Maidstone Borough Council documents describe this as "a common situation" where there are concerns that the tenant's actions "could have a negative impact on the licence due to poor management of the premises".

Andre Bent died near Gallery nightclub in August
Andre Bent died near Gallery nightclub in August

If agreed the shadow licence would essentially protect the landlord from any future licensing constraints brought about by controversy at the club.

It would also mean such conditions would apply only to the tenants at the time and not the owner of the building.

The new managers of the venue are understood to have not been involved in the process of the application, which will be heard by the council's Licensing Sub-Committee at the Town Hall on Monday.

An objection to the proposal, part of which suggests being open from 10am until 3.30am every day of the week, has been lodged by neighbours Robert Baker and Louise Beddoes.

They wrote: "This is of great concern due to the potential for unrelenting noise and anti-social behaviour outside our home as we live just a few doors down from the club."

The couple went on to explain the difficulty they had in explaining the police cordon to their eight-year-old in the aftermath of Mr Bent's death.

Police and forensics outside the Gallery Nightclub. Picture: Jim Bennett
Police and forensics outside the Gallery Nightclub. Picture: Jim Bennett

They added: "We genuinely feel scared for our safety when, for example, we have been away and return late on a weekend. We do try to avoid that but sometimes it is not possible.

"This is a problem that will only get worse if the licence is allowed to go ahead on the terms currently posted.

"We request shortening the licence opening hours so closing time for all activities is no later than midnight on Sunday through Thursday on a weekly basis.

"Exceptions can be made on days when the direct following day is a bank holiday."

Representatives for the landlord have been been approached for comment.

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