A County Durham club that held a bloody wrestling event attended by children without licensing approval has been fined close to £1000.

The New Seaham Conservative Club has been convicted of three offences brought by Durham County Council in relation to the ‘Pits of Punishment’ event which featured a so-called ‘death match.’

The club pleaded guilty to all charges, including "that it held the event despite not being licensed for such activity; that it allowed children to be present after 10pm without licensing authorisation; and that it sold alcohol to non-members without having sought a premises licence or temporary event notice".

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The prosecution followed a complaint to the council about the event, which featured one wrestler hitting another with a fluorescent light tube - which was done in front of children.

Later in the event, wrestlers could be seen covered in blood after they had been seen battling in the ring set up in the venue.

Ian Harrison, Durham County Council's business compliance manager, said: “Licensing is in place for a number of reasons including public safety and the protection of children from harm. It is therefore really important that, as most County Durham establishments do, venues make sure they have a license, adhere to its conditions and ensure it covers any activities they want to organise.

The Northern Echo: Footage of the wrestling event Footage of the wrestling event (Image: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL)

“In this case, the club hosted live wrestling despite its licence not allowing it to do so and without a temporary event notice having been applied for to legitimise the activity. It also allowed children to be present after 10pm and sold alcohol to non-members, both without the appropriate authorisation.

“What followed was an event at which children were exposed to violence, and wrestlers covered in blood.

The Northern Echo: The New Seaham Conservative Club was fined close to £1000The New Seaham Conservative Club was fined close to £1000 (Image: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL)

“We have taken this matter extremely seriously as this prosecution proves and we hope the three convictions the club now finds itself with act as a reminder to venues of the importance of complying with licensing legislation.” 

A representative of the club, on Station Road in Seaham, appeared before Peterlee Magistrates Court in relation to the event which took place on April 29, 2022.

The court was told the council received a complaint days after the event, with photos and video footage provided.

One of the images showed a male wrestler covered in blood and holding a fluorescent light tube.

The Northern Echo: A poster of the event A poster of the event (Image: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL)

A second image showed the same man, near to the wrestling ring, with a child visible in the foreground.

The complainant also provided a poster from CCW Colliery Championship Wrestling promoting the Pits of Punishment event.

In response to the complaint, the council carried out checks which showed the club was not authorised to stage wrestling events, or to have children in the venue after 10pm.

Council officers subsequently requested CCTV from the premises which on inspection showed children present in the venue until nearly 11pm.

In interview, a club official said the children who were still present after the event finished at 10.07pm were members of the organisers’ families.

She told council officers that non-members at the event had been signed in by members, although no signing in book was provided to confirm this.

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Another club official was also interviewed and confirmed that non-members are required to be signed in by a member, but was unable to say if this had happened at the wrestling event as he was out of the country.

In court, a further club official said the wrestling company had told the committee that it had everything in place to enable it to stage the event.

But he admitted the committee should have done more checks and said this was its first mistake in over 20 years.

The committee was said to be very sorry and to have stated that it wouldn’t happen again.

In total, the magistrates imposed a fine of £300 and ordered the club to pay £550 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge