Ciaran Spencer’s conviction for manslaughter at Bradford Crown Court this afternoon will have repercussions throughout the door security industry.
Spencer, a nightclub bouncer working at the now-defunct Bijou club in Bingley, was found guilty of the manslaughter of 24-year-old James Etherington, a rowdy customer who he ejected from the club in the early hours of November 25, 2017.
He was convicted following a retrial, after the jury in an earlier trial in August last year failed to reach a verdict.
Sentencing him to four years in jail, the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall, told Spencer that Mr Etherington’s death was “a result of your act and nobody else’s”.
But Judge Durham Hall also reserved harsh words for the training regime available to door supervisors, which he said was “wholly abysmal and wholly inadequate”.
Here are some of the key concerns that emerged during Spencer’s original trial in August.
Most of four-day course isn’t ‘hands on’
Door supervision is regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). To get a licence to become a bouncer, “front line staff” must complete four training modules and pass three exams.
But the court heard that only one of the four modules – in practice amounting to a single day of the four-day course – dealt with practical training on conflict management, including which moves can and cannot be safely used.
The court heard that Spencer used a choke hold, or ‘head chancery’, to restrain Mr Etherington while removing him from the nightclub, causing him to lose consciousness. He died of head injuries sustained immediately after Spencer released the hold.
This is a move which any training course should have made clear was unacceptable.
Four-day course “cannot prepare” staff for reality
Fida Hussain, the trainer who trained Spencer, told the court last year that the system for training door staff was “flawed”.
Talking about the four-day course bouncers must complete to become licenced, Mr Hussain said: “To give somebody the ability to perform as a security guard cannot possibly be done in this short a period of time.”
“In the heat of any moment things can get out of hand,” he said. “This is something training cannot prepare you for.”
Door staff deal with people who are intoxicated and operating without inhibition, he told the court. “Take away these kind of inhibitors and you have somebody who is essentially a superman.”
Expert warns ‘much more intensive’ training needed
Martial arts expert Mike Finn told the original trial that door supervisors in fast-changing situations would need far more training to be able to react instinctively to them.
“I think that realistically it would be appropriate if they had a much more intensive instructional course with a lot of practical experience thrown in,” he told the court.
Mr Finn agreed with Judge Durham Hall that he would like to see more training of door staff, but said that any level of training should have been enough to know that choking someone as a means of restraining them would be “quite inappropriate.”
Source – Telegraph and Argus