A pub has been temporarily closed after a man was hospitalised with a bleed on the brain, fractured skull and cheekbone after an assault.

Police highlighted a litany of issues with the staff response and handling of the serious incident at GW Horners in Chester-le-Street. 

A licensing meeting was called at County Hall in Durham following the assault at the Front Street pub on April 15. The meeting heard how paramedics were called to the venue at around 8.20pm after a commotion inside the male toilets was filmed on CCTV.

A witness then entered the toilets and found the victim lying unconscious on the floor. Bar staff called the ambulance service but not the police. Once the paramedics left the venue, Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) Shannon Halliday was filmed mopping the floor and thus “destroying the crime scene”, a report from licensing Sergeant Caroline Dickenson detailed.

The victim was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle with a fractured skull and cheekbone, bleed on the brain and cut to his head. He has memory loss and cannot remember what happened to him in the toilets.

Police were eventually contacted on April 21, six days after the incident by the victim’s sister. A criminal investigation was then opened by the police. 

The special licensing hearing was called after Durham Constabulary applied for an immediate suspension of the pub’s licence, and said the circumstances around the incident “bring into serious question the management and running of this premise”.

Sgt Dickenson said: “The initial incident was not reported by bar staff to the police. The ability to gain evidence from witnesses was lost, witnesses names were not recorded, CCTV was only then made available six days later, the quality of that CCTV was poor, and forensic opportunities were lost.

“If staff had looked at the CCTV at the time, they would have seen that this was an assault and not an accident or medical incident.”

The CCTV system at GW Horners was also deemed inadequate. 

Sgt Dickenson added: “The quality of the CCTV system was known to be poor after an incident in February when the DPS was struck on the head with a glass by a customer of the venue.

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“The CCTV is of such poor quality that no person's face can be seen and so makes identifying suspects of crime more difficult, if not impossible, there is also no date or time stamp on the CCTV.”

The press and public were excluded from the majority of the hearing today (Thursday, April 25) following concerns from solicitors that their presence would jeopardise the ongoing criminal investigation. As such, mitigating statements from the owners of the pub were not recorded in public. 

GW Horners will stay closed until May 6 but did not have its licence suspended. All staff must undertake first aid training, as part of the conditions agreed by the licensing authority.