A YEAR ago this week, city nightclub boss Darren Pinches was in the midst of a lengthy trial accused of sexual assault and several drug charges, including supplying and administering cocaine.

The then-owner of Browns, Bushwackers and Sin was sentenced to 21 months on December 5, 2018 after a four-week trial at Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington Spa.

The 53-year-old, of Bromyard Road, was found guilty of offering to supply cocaine to a woman after luring her to a private room at Browns at The Quay, in an attempt to have sex with her.

The woman, then 40, described feeling terrified and claimed the businessman was like a “raving animal” and sucked air through his teeth like film character Hannibal Lector.

She fled with the assistance of a manager and locked herself in her car.

Pinches was caught trying to wash cocaine down the sink of his then home in Berkley Gardens, Fernhill Heath on January 13, 2017 after police arrived to arrest him on suspicion of attempted rape at about 7.40am.

He was taken to the floor by several officers and handcuffed as police recovered the cocaine from a ripped grip-seal bag.

Pinches was acquitted of sexual assault and administering cocaine with intent to stupefy or overpower a 20-year-old woman in a Bushwackers storeroom on New Year’s Day 2017.

He was also cleared of supplying cocaine to a third woman, then 19, at the Crypt in Bushwackers and later at an apartment at the Quay overlooking the flooded river Severn in Worcester between February 9 and 15, 2016.

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Judge Anthony Potter said of the offer to supply cocaine to the woman at Browns between September 10 and 13, 2015: “You became aggressive, so aggressive in fact that she compared the transformation to turning into a Hannibal Lecter figure.

“You made a series of expletive-laden demands and announced the plan to have sexual intercourse with her.

“You referred to her as a bitch and cleared in a violent manner the desk in front of you of any items and demanded she get undressed and get onto the desk.

“It’s clear that your main intention in offering her cocaine was with a view to lowering her resistance to your approaches and seeking to make her more vulnerable to your sexual advances.

“She described how she had never been so scared in her life. She plainly thought she was about to be the victim of forced sexual intercourse.”

The judge acknowledged that Pinches had not manhandled the woman but had followed her after she left.

She locked herself in her car for ‘sanctuary’, believing her drink had been spiked after being ushered out of Browns by a manager who had already tried to get her to leave the room where she was with Pinches by telling her that her taxi was ready despite her not having ordered one.

The judge took the view that Pinches had earlier sent someone in person with a message at Bottles bar in the city hoping to isolate her from the friends with whom she had been socialising and said it was clear from her evidence she had been disoriented when she returned to Browns from Bottles at Pinches’ request.

Judge Potter said the woman had made it clear she did not want any of the five lines of cocaine Pinches had put out but that he had put pressure on her, telling her it would be ‘our secret’.

The judge accepted there was no scientific evidence her drink had been spiked and no such charge had been brought against Pinches by the Crown, telling the defendant he could not be sure on the evidence her drink had been interfered with. He also made clear he would sentence on the basis that the offer of cocaine was ‘an isolated occasion’.

His barrister, Michael Burrows QC, had earlier asked the judge to impose a community order, informing him his client was willing to perform unpaid work.

Mr Burrows had handed up two references on Pinches behalf and stressed that the offer to supply cocaine had been at the lowest level on a social, non-commercial basis and said the counts of which his client had been convicted would not have been pursued by the prosecution but for the other more serious allegations of which he had now been acquitted.

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He said: “The allegation put great strain on his marriage and, because of his position in Worcester, this case has attracted considerable publicity. It’s one thing for him to have to bear that publicly but another for members of his family to cope with it and his children to have to cope with it and the comments they have had at school about his conduct.”

Mr Burrows also said the case had had an impact on his client’s business and that this represented not just his livelihood but that of others too.

He spoke of Pinches often being ‘choked with emotion’ which he called ‘a measure of the strain he has been under’, a strain made greater by the allegations of which his client had been acquitted.

Pinches, however, showed no emotion as he was led down red-faced into the cells from the dock after being sentenced to immediate custody.

But he wouldn’t go away for long. After just seven months, on June 10, the businessman was released.

Following his imprisonment it had been expected he would take a backseat in his business empire, with his personal licence to sell alcohol put under review.

Companies House currently lists him as having only one current appointment as a director at Waterhouse UK Limited – previously he was listed as having up to 11 appointments as a director but some of the companies are now listed as ‘dissolved'.

For those businesses still in operation, including Bushwackers Leisure Limited, Pinches is no longer listed as playing an active role in them.

He was appointed to the latter position on September 20, 1997 and resigned on April 22, 2017, a little over three months after his dramatic arrest.

Some readers online at the time had suggested that people in the city boycott clubs and businesses connected to or associated with Pinches, including Bushwackers, Browns and Sin, particularly as students are known to attend the nightclubs.

A spokesperson for the University of Worcester said: “We do not offer students advice in relation to specific premises but we do work hard, along with the Students’ Union, to promote messages around personal safety and looking after each other.

"We work closely with Worcester’s well-established Nightsafe group and with selected nightclubs in the city to share those messages."

Comments have been suspended on this article in order to avoid someone identifying the alleged victim of the sexual assault for which Pinches was cleared, as the woman is legally entitled to anonymity.