Gambler Charged with Stabbing Dealer at London’s Empire Casino

Posted on: July 20, 2018, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: July 20, 2018, 04:14h.

A gambler who stabbed a dealer at London’s Empire Casino, Leicester Square, leaving him in critical condition, has now been charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of an offensive weapon.

Empire Casino
Police swarmed on London’s busy Leicester Square at 5pm on Monday after an Empire Casino roulette dealer was stabbed by a customer. The dealer, David Downes, posted  on social media that he was lucky to be alive. (Image: Evening Standard)

Kien Nguyen, 34, from East London, plunged a blade five inches into the chest of roulette croupier David Downes at around 5pm on Monday, just missing his heart. Nguyen was arrested at the scene.

Downes — reportedly a well-liked dealer at the Empire for several years — was fighting for his life on Tuesday, although he later made sufficient recovery to post updates of his condition on social media.

“I have been in theatre and have now moved to a stable but poorly condition,” he wrote. “I have been informed that I was lucky, two more millimeters to the left and I wouldn’t be here.”

Downes added the membrane of his heart had been grazed, his diaphragm had been punctuated, his liver was bleeding, and a chest drain had removed two pints of blood from around his lungs.

Terror Fears

Leicester Square is the tourist-packed epicenter of London’s theaterland — and a prime target for a terrorist attack. Crowds were disturbed to see armed police – a relative rarity in the UK — swoop on the casino at the height of rush hour, followed by air ambulance services.

While police quickly established the incident was not terrorist-related, they have reason to be jumpy. In June 2017, three ISIS-inspired Islamic terrorists went on a knife rampage in London’s Borough Market, after ramming pedestrians with a truck on London Bridge. They were shot dead by police after killing eight people.

Casinos have been identified as “legitimate” targets by Jihadists.

Double Digit Rise in Knife Crime  

The Mirror Online asked this week how Nguyen was able to smuggle the knife into the casino, avoiding security checks.

While the Empire broadly operates an open-door policy, customers are scrutinized by door security and are required to check their bags into a cloakroom before they enter, but they are not necessarily frisked.

A police report published on Wednesday revealed reported knife crime in the UK had risen by 16 percent in the first quarter of the year to March, although the murder rate in the city is lower than many major US cities, including New York which has a similar population.