One year on from the tragic deaths of two people killed in a crush at the Brixton Academy, the families of the victims have claimed that Afrobeats star Asake has “not done nearly enough” to support the investigation into their deaths.
Their statements come as the Metropolitan Police have issued a fresh appeal for information about exactly what happened that night, as well as releasing images of 13 people they would like to speak to in connection with the event. The images can be seen here.
On December 15, 2022, Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were killed when a crowd of up to 4,000 people – many of whom did not have tickets – rushed the doors to the south London venue in an attempt to gain entry to Asake’s sold-out show. A third 22-year-old woman is reported to still be in critical condition in hospital.
Now, speaking to the BBC, the families of Hutchinson and Ikumelo say they have had no recent contact with the artist and that they don’t believe he has helped enough.
Gaby Hutchinson was a security contractor who was working at the venue that night. Despite Mayor of London Sadiq Khan saying at the time that City Hall was “working to ensure nothing like this happens again,” his family say that they are still waiting for answers.
"The main person who can help is Asake,” Hutchinson’s sister Kelsey told the BBC. “He's not done nearly enough for the families. Maybe enough for himself.
“He's used Gaby's name in his speeches and concerts but he's not done anything to support the investigation. He has a voice, he can use it for good. He could come forward to his fans and ask for support with the appeals. These people had cameras and there are statements that they can give."
Rebecca Ikumelo’s father Anthony confirmed that he had heard nothing from the musician either. The mother-of-two nursing graduate had gone to the concert as a fan, but was caught up in the rush for the door. She was fatally injured in the venue’s foyer.
Mr. Ikumelo told the BBC: "Asake has been back to the country twice since the incident and twice he hasn't checked in to the families to ask us how we're coping. Maybe he doesn't want to contact us but he should do what he thinks is right.
“It's been a year but for us it feels like last week. What makes it so painful is that we are still waiting for answers: we don't understand why this happened. Rebecca went to see her idol and never returned home."
In a statement on the Metropolitan Police website on the anniversary of the incident, the detective leading the investigation, DCI Nigel Penny, said: “We remain focused on establishing exactly what happened that tragic evening, how Rebecca and Gaby came to lose their lives and why a young woman remains in hospital in a very serious condition a year later.
“We owe it to the families who have been left heartbroken and with many unanswered questions to establish the truth about what happened to their loved ones, and continue to follow the evidence where it takes us – without fear or favor.”
Following the tragedy, the iconic London venue was shuttered, had its music licence suspended and faced permanent closure. It has since been given permission to continue operating under a strict list of 77 “extensive and robust new conditions” including stronger doors, a new ticketing system and new security and management.
Following the death of Rebecca Ikumelo, Asake said he was “overwhelmed with grief”, and that he had spoken with her family, with the London Evening Standard reporting he had posted on his social media feeds:
“My team and I are still awaiting the full debrief back from the venue management and the police to determine what exactly led to all the disruption caused and ultimately Rebecca’s passing.”