Michael Lee Dalkin's tragic inquest uncovers 'scuffle' with bouncers and 'understaffed' Stockton bar

Police scene on Stockton High Street and Michael Lee Dalkin (inset)
Police scene on Stockton High Street and Michael Lee Dalkin (inset) -Credit:Terry Blackburn

It’s a tragic end to a truly heartbreaking story.

There was no conclusion that would have solved the heartache of Michael Lee Dalkin's family. But more than four years after the 22-year-old's sudden and untimely death outside of Goldies bar, his mum Victoria Bryson finally has some answers and heard from an off-duty bouncer who put her son to the floor minutes before his collapse on Stockton High Street.

She said she had no words to describe her feelings after coroner Clare Bailey stated that her “funny, loyal and loving” son, who had a “cheeky smile”, died in an ambulance on Stockton High Street on December 27, 2019, due to the effects of alcohol, substances, hypoplastic left heart syndrome and the "stress caused by the interaction with door supervisors”.

The senior coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool also made a future death report which will be issued to Goldies bar owner Paul Raffiq. Following two days of evidence at the Middlesbrough court, coroner Bailey deemed that the Yarm businessman was “not a reliable witness” as he was “vague and unclear” about the number of bouncers at Goldies bar on Boxing Day 2019.

Mr Raffiq told the inquest that he had the appropriate number of door staff at the venue, which he said was three, but evidence from other door supervisors counteracted his claims. Coroner Bailey stated that she was “concerned” that on December 26 and 27, 2019, the door staff was made up of one unlicensed person, Mr Raffiq - who told coroner Bailey he left the premises due to a family emergency earlier in the evening on Boxing Day - and one supervised door supervisor.

“In reality there was one licensed door supervisor,” coroner Bailey added. Mr Raffiq, who also owns Che Bar, was also unclear on what time he left Goldies on Boxing Day 2019 and what direction he gave to Che Bar doormen about not letting Michael Lee into the venue.

It was Mr Raffiq’s evidence that he could not recall denying Michael Lee entry. However, Neil Jackson - head doorman at Che Bar - told coroner Bailey that earlier in the evening Mr Raffiq told him that Michael Lee was “trouble”. The supervisor, with 21 years of experience, recalled Mr Raffiq stating: “I don’t want him in, I asked why and he said he’s trouble.” “He’d pick up a vibe and say they weren’t coming in tonight,” he added.

Coroner Bailey stated that if Goldies bar was not “understaffed” then off-duty doormen Shaun Calvert, Reece Hugill or members of the public “may have been able to request help” when the incident between Mr Hugill and Michael Lee began shortly after 3am. The coroner stated that she is making a Prevent Future Deaths report, which will aim to improve the security at Goldies bar, which could be considered as “Michael Lee’s legacy”.

Michael Lee Dalkin -Credit:Evening Gazette
Michael Lee Dalkin -Credit:Evening Gazette

Another significant part of the inquest heard about a “scuffle” on the dance floor before Michael Lee was “dragged” outside by Mr Hugill and Mr Calvert. The former Goldies bouncers claim that Michael Lee had picked up a glass from the bar and was “going to glass someone”.

However, those claims are contested by Michael Lee’s family as Mr Hugill grabbed Michael Lee’s left arm ‘to get the glass’ but his family state that he was right handed. They also claim that he picked up his pint from the bar and not an empty glass.

Home office pathologist Dr Louise Mulcahy concluded “the altercation has more than minimally played a role in Michael Lee’s death” . Coroner Bailey recorded that Michael Lee, who was at risk of sudden death due to his heart condition, passed away due to the “interaction with door supervisors”, as well as alcohol, synthetic cannabinoids, known as spice, and cocaine.

Police and CSI units outside Goldies Bar in Stockton High Street -Credit:Ian Cooper / Teesside Live
Police and CSI units outside Goldies Bar in Stockton High Street -Credit:Ian Cooper / Teesside Live

During the inquest, Mr Hugill and Mr Calvert gave evidence regarding the “altercation”, with Mr Hugill - who took Michael Lee "to the floor with one action" - saying that he used "reasonable action". The pair confirmed that they were working at Jokers bar, on Yarm Lane, Stockton , on Boxing Day 2019 and stayed for around ‘half an hour, 20 minutes’ after their shift ended between 12am and 12.30am.

Mr Hugill estimated that he drank ‘three to four Jack Daniels doubles’ followed by ‘five and 10 pints of Dark Fruit’ in Goldies before the confrontation with Michael Lee. They stated that they were acting as customers during the evening but had previously been employed by Goldies, but left weeks prior due to a dispute over pay.

Mr Hugill told the inquest that he remembered “seeing Michael move away from the group” then “go to the bar and pick up an empty glass”. “It looked like he was going to use it as a weapon,” Mr Hugill added. “ That’s when I stepped in, not as a door supervisor just as a human being.”

Mr Hugill described Michael Lee as “angry” and “walking on a mission”. He alleged that Michael Lee was holding a glass behind his back. Describing the interaction, he added: “I asked him to leave it. He was threatening me, just to glass me instead. I had hold of his hand where he had the glass. I had to pry it from his hand, I gave it to Shaun who put it on the bar.”

Michael Lee Dalkin pictured as a child -Credit:Family
Michael Lee Dalkin pictured as a child -Credit:Family

Mr Hugill added that after he put Michael Lee onto the floor, he “grabbed the lapels of his jacket and started carrying him out”. Coroner Bailey asked if he believed it was “reasonable action”. He added: “I didn’t try to hurt him. He wasn’t punched, he wasn't kicked. I removed the danger and carried him out.”

The coroner also queried if Michael Lee had verbally threatened others before the altercation with Mr Hugill. He clarified that he didn’t threaten anybody but it was ‘the way he was walking which is why he intervened’.

Shaun Calvert also gave evidence stated that Mr Hugill grabbed hold of Michael by his left arm and confirmed that he heard Mr Hugill told Michael Lee to “calm down” and “don’t do anything you’ll regret”. Mr Calvert stated that he believed the force used by Mr Hugill to take Michael Lee to the floor was “reasonable” as he stated that he was “defending himself”. “There was no violence - no punches, no kicks,” he added.

Police outside Goldies Bar after the incident -Credit:Terry Blackburn Photography
Police outside Goldies Bar after the incident -Credit:Terry Blackburn Photography

A murder probe was initially launched into the death of Michael Lee. However, in February 2021 Cleveland Police confirmed that the investigation had been closed after the death was deemed not to be suspicious.

However, during a conclusion given on Tuesday afternoon, coroner Bailey confirmed that Mr Calvert and Mr Hugill were not acting on behalf of Goldies bar and did not act inline with Security Industry Authority protocols. But, the coroner stated that she believed the actions of the doormen was “reasonable and proportionate” due to the possibility of a weapon.

The Stockton man’s mum Victoria Bryson attended the Middlesbrough court, alongside a number of other family members, to give evidence during the two day inquest. The 43-year-old described her son as “beautiful, funny, loyal, loving, energetic and sociable person with a heart of gold”.

She added that he had a close relationship with family members and was “loved by many”. Ms Bryson told the court that Michael Lee “wasn’t a trouble causer” and she was unsure what started the events of December 26 and 27, 2019.

Michael Lee Dalkin and mam Victoria Bryson.
Michael Lee Dalkin and mam Victoria Bryson. -Credit:Evening Gazette

On December 26, the mum stated that she had gone out to celebrate Boxing day and Michael Lee turned up at around 7.30pm. She told the coroner’s court that he arrived at the pub with a “cheeky smile” on his face.

During the early hours of December 27, Ms Bryson returned home but Michael Lee stayed out in Stockton with a female. She stated that she gave her son her iPhone and her gold chain. “Love you, I’ll see you when I get home,” she told him.

Ms Bryson added that Michael Lee was “full of life that evening”, stating that he “loved to dance and was not a trouble causer.”

Ms Bryson, on behalf of the family, asked the coroner to consider that the altercation “caused a stress” for Michael Lee which led to his sudden death. She alleged that her son was “targeted” and “bullied” as he was simply “dancing at the bar”.

“That’s contributed to him passing away,” the Stockton mum said. However, in her conclusion, coroner Bailey refuted the claims that Michael Lee was targeted or bullied.


Coroner Clare Bailey recorded a narrative conclusion. She said: "Michael Lee Dalkin suffered with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. On the evening of December 26, 2019, he was socialising in Stockton town centre. He consumed alcohol and illicit substances.

"In the early hours of December 27, 2019, he was inside Goldie’s Bar. Two off duty door supervisors believed he was going to cause injuries with a glass. One of the off duty door supervisors removed the glass from him and moved him to the floor.

"They transported him outside the bar by carrying him by his limbs. They placed him on the floor outside the bar. Their actions were inconsistent with SIA training but reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

"Michael Lee Dalkin died in an ambulance on Stockton High Street on December 27, 2019, due to a combination of his congenital heart defect, ingestion of alcohol and drugs and stress caused by the interaction with the off duty door supervisors."

Teesside Live has approached Paul Raffiq and Goldies Bar for comment.