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Families of Brixton Academy crush victims say Asake “hasn’t done anything to support the investigation”, appeal for more information

Families of the two victims killed in the Brixton Academy crush have claimed Afrobeats star Asake “hasn’t done anything to support the investigation”.

In December 2022, two people died in a fatal crowd crush that occurred at Asake’s concert in Brixton Academy. Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were killed when concertgoers without tickets rushed the doors at the venue to see the musician, leading to overcrowding. Another 21-year-old woman is reportedly still in critical condition at the hospital a year on from the incident.

Now, the families of Hutchinson and Ikumelo have appealed for more information and said Asake hasn’t done as much as he could.

In an interview with the BBC, Gaby’s sisters Kelsey and Nina have said Asake is “the main person” who can help with the investigation. Asake’s representatives have been contacted for comment.

“He’s not done nearly enough for the families,” said Kelsey. “Maybe enough for himself.”

The O2 Academy Brixton on September 11, 2023, the day a hearing to decide its future began. Credit: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

“He’s used Gaby’s name in his speeches and concerts but he’s not done anything to support the investigation,” she continued. Asake returned to the UK this August to play the O2 Arena, where he paid tribute to the victims with a three-minute poem.

“He has a voice, he can use it for good,” said Kelsey. “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.”

In another interview with The Guardian, Kelsey also claimed the singer “has never made a formal acknowledgement of our family.”

Rebecca Ikumelo’s parents, Yetunde Olodo and Anthony Ikumelo, have also called on Asake to do more. They also claimed the musician had not reached out to them.

Speaking to the BBC, Ikumelo said: “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.

He also added: “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.”

Asake (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
Asake (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Today (December 15), the police have also released images of 13 people they would like to speak to in connection with the event. You can see the images here.

In a statement on the Met’s website, the detective leading the inspection, 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 favour.”

He then called for anyone who knew the 13 people in the images to come forward, and additionally requested concertgoers to share any footage they had from the night.

Asake. CREDIT: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

According to Ikumelo, the family “weren’t contacted at all” when the decision to reopen Brixton Academy was made. After a hearing, it was announced in September the venue could continue subject to 77 “robust” safety measures and a series of test events.

“We don’t have a say on this,” he said. “But at least they could have the decency to tell us and ask how we are coping. Not doing this, I think, was wrong.”

Ikumelo has also questioned the speed at which Brixton Academy is set to open: “We understand that eventually it’s going to open – but why can’t we wait for the police investigation to finish?”

A spokesperson for the AMG has said:

“Academy Music Group (AMG) continues to be devastated by the events of 15 December 2022, and our heartfelt condolences remain with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson. What happened was and is a tragedy. Over the past year we have been driven by determination to learn all appropriate lessons from that night to ensure it can never be repeated.

“We are pleased that the comprehensive plan for reopening the venue met with the approval of Lambeth Licensing Sub-Committee. AMG is working hard to implement the new conditions before welcoming fans back to O2 Academy Brixton. There will be an announcement for the reopening timeline in due course”.

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