Bouncer laughed after man's friends was forced to drink fatal shotsApril 21, 2023
‘Bouncer LAUGHED in my face and said ”Your friend is dead” after my mate was made to drink 22 shots of drugged alcohol and died in Polish strip club’
- Mark Cocks, 36, collapsed in Krakow’s Wild Night club while on holiday in 2017
- Police have since arrested seven as part of an organised crime investigation
A British holidaymaker has revealed how a bouncer laughed in his face when his friend died in a Polish strip club after being forced to drink 22 shots.
Mark Cocks, 36, collapsed in 2017 after being plied with almost two dozen shots of strong alcohol at Krakow’s Wild Night club while on a night out with his school friend Steven Skiba.
Mystery surrounds the tragic incident, but police have now arrested seven people over his death as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang behind a series of deaths of foreigners who were allegedly drugged and robbed at the notorious club.
Now, Mr Skiba, a father-of-two, has come forward to tell of the horror of the fateful night in the lap dancing club – and how a bouncer laughed in his face when he told him: ‘Your friend is dead’.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline from his home in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, where he works as a fisherman, Mr Skiba, 40, has told of the horrors of the night six years ago – from thinking he had been spiked, to the panic of not being able to find his friend.
Mark Cocks, 36, collapsed in 2017 after being plied with almost two dozen shots of strong alcohol at Krakow’s Wild Night club
Steven Skiba described his friend as a ‘top lad’. Mr Skiba (second left) is pictured with Mr Cock’s (centre right) on holiday together
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Skiba (left and right) has told of the horrors of the night in Krakow six years ago
Mr Skiba said when the pair arrived in Krakow, they inadvertently found themselves in the Wild Nights club – where Mr Cocks would lose his life less than 24 hours later.
The pair had jetted to Poland on a whim after enjoying a string of holidays together. He said they were in the pub deciding between Amsterdam or Krakow, before choosing the later because of his Polish sounding name.’
‘We just upped and went, really. It was completely spur of the moment trip. I had a good job then, fishing, with good money coming in. We were both single and thought why not?
‘We knew to be careful at the strip clubs and watch our cards. We said before we went, if we are going in those places, we’re only going in with the right amount of cash and to take nothing else.
‘We’ve had friends who had been there who’d had their pockets empty. So we knew to keep our wits about us.’
Mr Skiba said: ‘The night before it happened we got dragged into the same club. We only had one drink in there and they were pestering us to stay. But we went home.
‘I was up bad all night, spewing. I thought I had been spiked. I’d never felt so ill. In the morning, I still felt rough from just the one drink. God knows what they’d given me. I didn’t want to go out the following night but I felt bad for Mark. I didn’t want to ruin his trip.
‘So we went out, just with the intention of having a couple of pints. We went to the main square but all the bars were quite posh and not really what we were into. We wanted something a bit more like our locals – something a bit more rough and ready.
‘We went around the side street and that’s where the strip club was. The guy outside pestered us to go in. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
M r Skiba said when the pair arrived in Krakow, they inadvertently found themselves in the Wild Nights club
Mystery surrounds the tragic incident, but this week police in Poland arrested seven people over mark Cock’s death. One of the suspects is pictured
Mr Skiba has now come forward to tell of the horror of the fateful night in the Krakow lap dancing club
Mr Skiba said that once inside, the men tried to leave but were hounded into staying.
‘When we tried to go, there were four or four of the staff around us, saying ‘no, don’t leave – free dance, free dance’. Mark was like ‘free dance, okay – but nothing more – no money’. They took us past the bar, down a long corridor, with curtained booths.
‘I went into one, and Mark went into another. The next thing this woman walked in with a card machine and a Coke-sized bottle of something. I was trying to get out. I wasn’t interested. I knew what their game was. I was pushing my way past them. I threw a bank note at them and ran towards the bar.’
Mr Skiba said he went back to the bar, hoping to see Mr Cocks.
‘I couldn’t see Mark anywhere. Then two other men came out of the corridor, falling all over the place. They were sliding down the walls. I’d never seen anything like it. They couldn’t stand up. They just kept collapsing. They were saying over and over again ‘no, this is wrong, these girls just rob’.
‘I started getting really worried for Mark. My phone had died, so I asked a guy if I could use his phone to send him a Facebook message. I wrote: ‘Get out of there right now – they’re robbing you’. I have no idea if he ever saw that message.’
Increasingly anxious, Mr Skiba told how he flagged down a police car outside the venue to express his concerns.
‘I told them ‘my friend’s in there – he’s in trouble’. They just laughed at me and drove off. A guy came over from a shop next door and said to me ‘sorry to tell you, but those officers work for the club – it’s all Polish mafia’.I was properly panicking.
‘Two bouncers were guarding the corridor. They wouldn’t let me through to see Mark. They kept saying ‘he’s not a scrooge like you – he’s having fun. He’s spending money. I begged the bar staff to get Mark out of there but they just kept trying to sell me drinks.’
Polish raided night clubs and arrested suspects last year during an investigation into an organised criminal group extorting money from customers at nightclubs
Strippers at the Wild Night club in Krakow are pictured inside the establishment, which has since closed in the Polish city
Krakow’s Old Town used to host the Wild Nights club before the establishment’s subsequent closure
Mr Skiba told how he realised something was badly wrong when two strippers ran into the bar area ‘screaming and crying’.
But he still had no idea about the fate of his friend.
‘I saw the paramedics from a distance doing CPR on someone’s chest,’ he said.
‘I asked the staff – is that my friend? They were going ‘no, no, your friend is fine’.
‘Then the two bouncers came out laughing and joking. I said to one of them ‘is my friend okay?’. He looked at me, laughed and said ‘your friend is dead’.
‘I just fell to the floor on my hands and knees. I was in complete shock.’
Mr Skiba was quizzed by police in Poland before flying back to England alone.
Officers had claimed Mr Cocks had been drunk when he entered the strip club, but family and friends insist this was not true.
He was allegedly robbed of PLN 2,200, about £420, in cash.
Mr Skiba said: ‘I’ve read stuff which says we were drunk when we went in there, but we weren’t. We’d only had one pint.
‘Mark wasn’t in the booth for very long so they must have forced the stuff down his throat or laced it with drugs.
‘Mark was a bit more timid than I am. When they came in and started pressuring him, he was probably frightened and did what they told him.
‘I blame myself for what happened. I feel I should have had his back. I felt like I’d let him down. I feel ashamed to say I was scared, but I didn’t know what kind of thing we were messing with.
Polish police officers raided a series of strip clubs in Krakow as part of an investigation into an organised criminal gang
Polish police raided night clubs and arrested suspects last year during an investigation into an organised criminal group
Picture shows the monitoring centre in one of the strip clubs that was raided last year
Polish police raided a series of strip clubs in Poland last year and arrested dozens of suspects
Picture shows the monitoring centre in one of the strip clubs that was raided last year
‘It’s tortured me every day since. When he said ‘do you want to go to Krakow or Amsterdam’ – if I’d chosen Amsterdam, he would still be here.
Mr Skiba is convinced that his lifelong friend Mr Cocks was drugged as well as forced to down super-strong alcohol because he was a heavy drinker who could have easily walked out of the club after drinking 22 shots.
‘Mark wasn’t drunk when he went into the club. We’d only had one pint. And he came out dead.’
He said Mr Cocks, a Leeds United supporter, was ‘stone cold sober’ when he arrived at the club, having only had a pint of beer beforehand.
‘He could handle a drink. On a Sunday session, he’d knock back ten pints easily.
‘They say he was forced to drink 22 shots. But Mark could easily have drunk 22 shots and walked out of there, I know he could have.
‘I’m convinced whatever he drank was laced with drugs, like a date-rape drug so they could rob him.’
Polish prosecutors said in 2017 that Mr Cocks had been ‘led into a deep state of intoxication’ after being given 22 unordered portions of ‘high-proof alcohol’.
They added: ‘Acute poisoning with ethyl alcohol led to the concentration in the victim’s body and urine, as a result of which the man died.’
Mr Cocks’ family have been trying to seek justice over his death for over six years.
Mr Skiba described his friend as a ‘top lad’. ‘I’d known him from school. We played pool together all the time. Poland was the fourth holiday we’d been on together.’
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