AN act of revenge by a drunken member of a London pornographic cinema

club who was refused admission after a row over entrance charges, last

year caused the deaths of 11 men and left 15 others seriously injured,

an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday.

It is alleged that tailor's cutter David Lauwers, known to his friends

as Deaf Dave, having been butted and thrown out of the New City Cinema

Club, later returned with a can of petrol and set fire to the building

-- knowing that lives would be endangered.

''This is not a case of a man committing a dangerous act which went

tragically wrong,'' the Crown insisted. ''It was a dangerous act where

the intention was to do harm.''

Mr Lauwers, aged 35, denies three ''representative'' charges of murder

and two of arson. A sign-language expert, sitting in the dock with Mr

Lauwers and three prison officers, interpreted the evidence for him.

Yesterday, defence counsel Mr Rock Tansey, QC, concentrated

cross-examination on a crunching noise, heard by a Scottish witness to

the fracas, as Mr Lauwers was ''nutted'' by a stand-in employee at the


The Scottish witness was the first of the club members who will give

evidence and who have unusually being granted anonymity because of the

peculiar circumstances of the murder and arson trial.

Sir Lawrence Verney, the Recorder of London, has accepted the argument

that there is a need for protection of witnesses in view of the

sensitivity of the club and publicity the case had attracted.

The Scot, having written his name down, was thereafter described in

court as Mr Z.

He described how the lights suddenly went out and thick black smoke

belched through the private cinema as he and others watched a porno


Doors had been locked, he said, and they couldn't get out of the club.

''We couldn't do nothing. We just had to lie down. I went to sleep.''

By that he agreed he went unconscious.

He agreed that he had heard a crunching noise as the sole doorman, an

elderly man, had head-butted a man during an argument over entrance to

the club.

Mr John Nutting, prosecuting, told the jury Mr Lauwers then went to a

nearby petrol station and bought a can of petrol before returning to the

four-storey terraced building in St John Street which housed the cinema

club. The prosecution claims he poured petrol at the entrance, then set

it alight.

The two cinemas in the building, which showed continuous pornographic

films, were engulfed in flames.

''There were about 30 men in the two cinemas. Pandemonium broke out as

they realised the mortal danger they faced,'' Mr Nutting told the jury.

One of those who survived ''managed to preserve his hold on life by

finding a crack in the floor where cleaner air was ventilating'', said

Mr Nutting.

Removal men working nearby manoeuvred their lorry close to a

first-floor ledge where survivors had climbed from windows.

One man died after diving in desperation from a window, the jury was


According to the prosecution, having started the blaze, Mr Lauwers

went to a pub and then visited a friend with six cans of lager.

He told the friend he was in trouble and had set a building on fire.

After watching news bulletins, he told his friend: ''Christ, I did not

know it was as bad as that. I could be in for a murder charge here'', Mr

Nutting told the court.

Two days after the fire, Mr Lauwers turned up at a police station and

allegedly confessed to causing the fire at ''King's Cross''.

The trial continues.