A NIGHTCLUB owner is expected to take a back seat in his business empire after he was jailed for offering to supply cocaine to a woman.

However, Bushwackers and Browns at the Quay boss Darren Pinches has the support of celebrity record producer and radio owner Muff Murfin, who says the businessman should not have gone to jail and could have performed a more valuable role in the community or by continuing his charity work.

Pinches' personal licence to sell alcohol is also now under review after he was jailed for 21 months at Warwick Crown Court on Wednesday, as the entrepreneur begins his sentence and surrenders the reins of his many business ventures.

The 52-year-old father-of-two was convicted of possession of cocaine and offering to supply cocaine to a woman who claimed he demanded sex from her.

She branded him a ‘predator’ following a four-week trial which also saw him cleared of a sex attack and administering cocaine with intent to overpower or stupefy against a 20-year-old woman and of supplying cocaine to a third woman, aged 19, in the Crypt and Bushwackers.

Companies House now lists Pinches as having only three current appointments as a director at the Quay, the Casbre Factory Limited and Waterhouse UK Limited.

Previously he was listed as having 13 appointments as a director but some of the companies are now listed as ‘dissolved'. For those businesses still in operation, Pinches is no longer listed as playing an active role in them.

He is listed as a former director of Bushwackers Leisure Limited. He was appointed to the position on September 20, 1997 and resigned on April 22, 2017, a little over three months after his dramatic arrest at his home in Berkley Gardens on January 13 last year.

A Worcester City Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Mr Darren Pinches currently holds a personal licence with the city council. In light of his recent conviction at court, Mr Pinches’ personal licence will be reviewed, in line with the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003.

“Mr Darren Pinches is not currently a premises licence holder - neither is he named as the Designated Premises Supervisor on any premises licences issued by the city council.”

Some readers online 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."

References for Pinches were supplied by Michael Burrows QC on behalf of his client at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

The references were provided on Pinches’s behalf by Worcester jeweller Anja Potze and radio station owner Muff (John) Murfin who said that Pinches had done much for charity in the city and supported the Swan Theatre.

Mr Murfin, speaking after Pinches was jailed, said he deserved a 'clip around the ear' and should have been made to pay the woman compensation but has no plans to sever ties, describing

Pinches as 'perfectly harmless'.

Mr Murfin told the Worcester News: "He's stupid sticking stuff up his nose. I'm dead against drugs, I really am. He's never sold them. Giving it away is still bad and if he has that sort of habit he needs to give it up. He wants a thump around the ear and should pay compensation under a very strict community order.

"He can still do so much good.

"He feels really sorry for his family who are going to be the people that suffer. It's such a shame. His family are lovely. He can do so much for Worcester and for charities.

"Locking people up doesn't work with a lot of people. It's a waste of money and the prisons are overloaded."

The jury found Pinches guilty of offering to supply cocaine to the woman at a private room in Browns on Friday, September 11, 2015. Pinches offered her cocaine which she refused and when he had snorted the drug himself he swept items off the desk and demanded sex, the court heard.

The woman said she had been terrified and spoke about how she planned to sell up and leave Worcester.

Pinches was also convicted of possession of cocaine after he was caught by police attempting to flush the class A drug down the sink only for officers to take him to the floor in his bathroom in Berkley Gardens, Fernhill Heath, near Worcester on January 13 last year.

The judge told Pinches during the sentencing hearing that he had known of the problems the victim, then aged 40, was having with her partner because of a conversation she had a week before he offered her the cocaine.

Judge Anthony Potter said: “I have no way of knowing whether it was that conversation that persuaded you to make your approaches to her on the evening.”

He also made reference to her victim personal statement in which the woman said she trusted Pinches as he had ‘never been anything other than helpful and respectful to her’ in the past.

The woman was told by a manager that her taxi had arrived even though she had not ordered one.

The same man tried to usher her from the building.

The woman described Pinches saying ‘you are coming back aren’t you?’ before she made calls and sent texts asking for help before she sought sanctuary in her car, parked outside.

He said: “You instructed a member of staff to bring the cocaine and you produced that cocaine. You had every opportunity by dint of the interruption by another member of staff to put the cocaine away and not offer it to her but instead you became terse with the member of staff and sent him away and returned to the five or so lines of cocaine you had lined up. You offered her that cocaine.

"That is the stark issue behind the conviction. You encouraged her to take the cocaine despite the fact she had indicated to you she wasn’t interested. You put pressure on her and said it would be ‘our secret’.”

The judge added: “It’s quite evident to me from the evidence that you are extremely fond of your children and equally aware of the effect the proceedings and this conviction have had upon them. I have no doubt that is something you profoundly regret. I bear in mind the strain you have been under in the course of these proceedings.”

Reporting the case

THE trial of Darren Pinches captivated Worcester readers and was consistently one of the most read stories online during November and into this month.

The popularity of the case with readers is down to a perfect storm of ingredients which together tend to generate interest - namely sexual desire, power and drugs.

The story also featured at its heart a ‘powerful’ man according to the prosecution and one of the closest things Worcester has to a celebrity. Even if you have never met Darren Pinches, the chances are you have heard of him or have been to one of his clubs or businesses.

Judging by some of the comments on our Facebook page there were many people who nursed something of a grievance against him and the decision to sentence him to immediate custody was welcomed by the majority of our readers.

Covering the trial presented certain logistical challenges. The prosecution had applied to move the case out of Worcester because Pinches was so well known in the city, to ensure he had a fair trial. No date or venue for the trial was fixed at Worcester Crown Court on February 1 when Pinches denied the five counts against him. There was talk of the case being heard in Harrow or Croydon which would have presented challenges for the Worcester News.

The trial was listed at the Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington Spa which, even in good traffic, is more than an hour each way but on occasion due to traffic congestion or accidents lasted more than double this. As the verdicts were about to come in an accident trapped the reporter between junctions six and five on the M5 and another reporter had to be sent to Leamington by train so we did not miss anything.

The start of the hearings on November 7 and November 8 were taken up with legal arguments which we cannot report. The case had been due to be heard by a different judge but when the timetable for the trial was revealed, she had commitments which prevented her from presiding in the trial and it was transferred to judge Anthony Potter.

The Worcester News managed to be there every day of the trial.


• September 10, 2015: One of the complainants, then aged 40, says Pinches offered her cocaine in a room at Browns at the Quay which she refused, before he demanded sex with her. She says she fled Browns, assisted by a manager, then locked herself in her car. She says she made calls to her partner and his daughter and did not drive home until 3.30am, believing her drink had been spiked.

• January 14, 2016: The same woman told a female police officer about Pinches’s actions at Browns but at that stage she did not wish to pursue a complaint.

• February 10, 2016: A woman, then aged 19, says Pinches gave her cocaine on a shelf by a mirror on stairs down to the Crypt, a basement area within Bushwackers. Pinches was cleared of this allegation by the jury.

• New Year’s Day 2016: Pinches was said to have sexually assaulted a woman then aged 20 in a storeroom in Bushwackers after forcing a bag of cocaine into her face. Pinches was unanimously cleared of both these counts by the jury.

• January 13, 2017, 3am: The general manager of Bushwackers, Mark Humpage, says he dropped off £3,000 at Pinches’s home in Berkley Gardens, Fernhill Heath along with a small amount of cocaine he found in a Bushwackers toilet.

• January 13, 2017 at 7.45am: Officers arrive at Pinches’s home to arrest him on suspicion of attempted rape. He is brought to the floor in his bathroom as he tried to dispose of cocaine by washing it down the sink. An ambulance had to be called because Pinches, who has asthma, reported having breathing difficulties. Paramedics could find nothing significantly wrong with Pinches and he was taken to Worcester Police Station in Castle Street to be interviewed.

• January 13, 2017 at around 9.30am: Officers search Bushwackers. A sniffer dog and scenes of crime officers are deployed. Traces of cocaine are found on the speaker in the storeroom which match the sample of cocaine from Pinches' bathroom.

• April 1, 2017: The complainant, who compared Pinches to Hannibal Lecter after he offered her cocaine, is interviewed by police.

• July 10, 2017: The same complainant tried to retract her statement because she said she felt threatened.

• February 1, 2018: Pinches denies all counts against him when he is formally arraigned at Worcester Crown Court. At the time no date or venue was fixed. The Crown argued that Pinches was so well known in Worcester he should not be tried in the city.

• November 7, 2018: Darren Pinches appears in the dock at Leamington Spa but the day is taken up with legal arguments.

• November 8, 2018: More legal arguments before the jury is sworn.

• November 9, 2018: Ben Aina QC opens the case for the prosecution.

  • December 3, 2018: Pinches is convicted of possession of cocaine but cleared of sexual assault, administering cocaine with intent to overpower or stupefy and supplying cocaine.
  • December 4, 2018: Pinches is convicted of offering to supply cocaine.
  • December 5, 2018: Pinches is jailed for 21 months.