Three men have appeared in court to deny murdering footballer Cody Fisher, stabbed to death in a Birmingham nightclub on Boxing Day.
The 23-year-old player was fatally stabbed on the dancefloor of The Crane in Digbeth while enjoying a festive night out with friends.
Emergency services rushed to the busy nightclub at 11.45 pm, but Cody was pronounced dead 30 minutes later despite desperate efforts to save his life.
Today, Remy Gordon, 22, Kami Carpenter, 21 and Reegan Anderson, 18, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court charged with murder and affray.
The trio, who appeared by a video link from custody, spoke only to confirm their names and to enter not-guilty pleas during the 25 minutes hearing.
Adjourning the case, Judge Melbourne Inman KC told the defendants that the trial would last around four weeks.
He extended all three defendants’ custody time before the trial date.
He said: ‘So that everybody understands and, importantly, the defendants, today’s hearing is a view to ensuring that the case is managed correctly so that the trial takes place within the custody time limit and as soon as possible.
‘The trial is listed for Monday, July 3rd, before this court.’
Cody, a non-league player and sports coach, played for Bromsgrove Sporting, Stratford Town, and Stourbridge and had been in the Birmingham City FC Academy.
Police said Cody was stabbed on the nightclub’s dancefloor on boxing day after a fight broke out.
The Crane was closed permanently in January after having its licence revoked by Birmingham City Council.
Cody’s heartbroken girlfriend Jess Chatwin previously wrote online: ‘My poor baby. I’m so sorry this has occurred to you.
‘My whole world, the love of my life, my best friend, has been taken away. I don’t know how I will do life without you, Code.
‘There is so much we will never get to do now. This doesn’t feel real. I love you forever, Cody Fisher.’
Police had asked the council to revoke the licence permanently, citing drug misuse and security concerns.
The night Mr Fisher died, three people needed medical help due to drugs, police told a licensing hearing.
A licensing committee considered evidence from several bodies on Tuesday.
A licence suspension which came into force on December 30th remains in place pending any appeal against the finding to revoke.
Representations on behalf of the club were held privately, but before the council’s decision, a spokesperson had said revoking the licence would be “wholly inappropriate”.
Three men have been charged with murdering 23-year-old Mr Fisher, a sports coach from Redditch, Worcestershire, who played for non-league Stratford Town.
In a public portion of Tuesday’s hearing, Gary Grant, representing the West Midlands force, urged councillors to pull the licence, saying the venue posed a “grave risk” to public safety and crime and disorder.
He told the committee that door searches were “inconsistent or haphazard” and, citing bags of white powder, added there was “blatant and widespread” use of drugs.
The meeting heard that video footage from the night in question showed a person inhaling from a balloon believed to contain nitrous oxide, regardless of a police presence that emerged following the stabbing.
Council enforcement officer Shaid Ali told members the licence terms required the venue to have a zero-tolerance drug policy, adding, “It’s quite clear its policy wasn’t being enforced”.
Before the committee passed judgment, barrister Nicholas Leviseur for Damian Eston, director of Digital Arts Media Ltd, which operated Crane, told the hearing the revocation of the licence was “wholly inappropriate in this case”.
He said he would not comment further on “what led to the tragic loss” of Mr Fisher as his client’s evidence had been set out in private sessions.
Mr Grant said checks on CCTV from Boxing Day revealed three customers “had to be carried out by friends or staff” because of drug use, including a woman described as “dribbling out of her mouth, barely breathing”.
An ambulance was required, and the woman was taken to hospital, adding to the perception “this was not a properly controlled event”, he explained.
“[It was] so blatant that management and security showed a reckless blind eye or simply didn’t care what was happening in their venue,” Mr Grant stated.
Digbeth landlord Oval Real Estates, and venue Lab 11, joined environmental health and trading standards in making submissions to the council against Crane. One city councillor had said that while he opposed its closure, there should be strong conditions on the venue.
The hearing was told that the club began operating on October 15th after being granted a licence in June.