A British holidaymaker has revealed how a bouncer laughed in his face when his friend died at a Polish strip club after being forced to drink 22 shots.
Mark Cox, 36, collapsed in 2017 after having nearly two dozen doses of hard alcohol at Krakow’s Wild Night Club while on a night out with his school friend Stephen Skiba.
Mystery surrounds the tragic accident, but police have now arrested seven people over his death as part of an investigation into the organized crime ring behind a series of deaths of foreigners who were allegedly drugged and robbed at the infamous club.
Now, Mr. Skiba, a father of two, has come forward to tell us of the horror of the fateful night at the lap dance club — and how the 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, spoke of the horrors of the night six years ago – from the thought he had been injured, to the consternation of being unable to find his friend. .
Mark Cox, 36, collapsed in 2017 after having nearly two dozen doses of hard alcohol at the Wild Night Club in Krakow.
Stephen Skiba described his friend as a “big guy”. Mr. Skiba (second from left) pictured with Mr. Cook (center right) on vacation together
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Skiba (left and right) spoke about the horrors of the night in Krakow six years ago
MWhen the couple arrived in Kraków, Skiba said, they inadvertently found themselves in the Wild Nights Club – where Mr. Cocks loses his life less than 24 hours later.
The couple had flown to Poland on a whim after enjoying a series of vacations together. He said they were at the bar and deciding between Amsterdam or Kraków, before later choosing because of his Polish name.
“We just hiked up and went, really. It was quite the catalyst for the momentary trip. I had a good job at the time, which was fishing, and I had good money. We were single and we thought why not?”
We knew to be careful in strip clubs and watch our cards. We said before we went, if we’re going to those places, we just go with the right amount of cash and won’t take anything else.
We had friends who were there and their pockets were empty. So we knew to keep our wits about us.
The night before this happened, Mr. Skiba said, we were dragged to the same club. We only had one drink and they were bothering us to stay. But we came home.
I was up all night, tossing. I thought I was hit hard. I have never felt sick. In the mornings, I’m still dreading just one drink. God knows what they gave me. I didn’t want to go out the next night but I felt bad for Mark. I didn’t want to spoil his trip.
So we went out, just with the intention of getting a few pints. We went to the main square but all the bars were very posh and not really what we were in for. We wanted something a little more like our locals – something a little rougher and ready.
“We wandered down the side street and this is where the strip club was. The guy outside was pestering us to get in. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
MR Skiba said that when the duo arrived in Krakow, they unwittingly found themselves in the Wild Knights club.
Mystery surrounds the tragic accident, but this week police in Poland arrested seven people in connection with Cook’s death. One of the suspects was photographed
Mr. Skiba now came forward to tell of the horror of the fateful night at the Kraków lap-dancing club
Once inside, Mr. Skiba said, the men tried to leave but were chased to stay.
When we tried to go, there were four or four members of staff around us, saying “No, don’t leave – free dance, free dance”. Mark was like, “Free dance, okay – but no more – no money.” They took us beyond the bar, down a long corridor, with curtained booths.
I went to one, and Mark went to another. Next thing this woman walked in with a card machine and a bottle of something the size of a Coke. I was trying 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 tavern.
Mr. Skiba said he went back to the bar, hoping to see Mr. Cox.
I couldn’t see Mark anywhere. Then two more men walked out of the corridor and fell all over. They were sliding down the walls. I’ve never seen anything like it. They could not stand. They just kept falling apart. They’d say over and over “No, that’s wrong, these girls are just stealing.”
I’m starting to get really worried about Mark. My phone died, so I asked a guy if I could use his phone to send a message on Facebook. “Get out of there now – they’re robbing you,” she wrote. I have no idea if he has seen this message before.
With growing concern, Mr. Skiba told how he had pulled a police car outside to express his concerns.
I told them “my friend is over there – he’s in trouble”. They laughed at me and drove off. A guy from a nearby shop came up to me and said ‘Sorry to tell you, but these officers work at the club – it’s all Polish mafia.
Two guards were guarding the corridor. They wouldn’t let me pass to see Mark. They kept saying ‘He’s not as stingy as you – he’s having fun. He spends money. I begged the bar staff to get Mark out of there but they kept trying to sell me drinks.
Poland raided nightclubs and arrested suspects last year during an investigation into an organized criminal group that extorted money from customers in nightclubs.
Strippers at Krakow’s Wild Night club were filmed inside the facility, which has since closed in the Polish city
Old Town Kraków used to host the Wild Nights Club before the subsequent closure of the establishment
Mr. Skiba told how he realized something was terribly wrong when two strippers ran through the bar area “yelling and crying”.
But he had no idea about his friend’s fate.
“I saw paramedics from a distance performing CPR on someone’s chest,” he said.
I asked the staff – is this my friend? They would say, “No, no, your friend is fine.”
Then the two guards 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 ground on my hands and knees. I was in complete shock.’
Skiba was interrogated by the police in Poland before he returned to England alone.
Officers had alleged Mr Cox was drunk when he entered the strip club, but family and friends insist this was not true.
It was alleged that he was robbed of PLN 2,200, about £420, in cash.
I’ve read things that say we were drunk when we went in there, said Mr. Skiba, but we weren’t. We only had one pint.
Mark wasn’t in the cab for very long, so they must have thrown things down his throat or drugged him.
Mark was shyer than me. When they came in and started squeezing him, he was probably afraid and did what they told him.
I blame myself for what happened. I feel like I should have had his back. I felt I had let him down. I’m ashamed to say I was scared, but I didn’t know what kind of thing we were messing with.
Polish police officers have raided a series of strip clubs in Krakow as part of an investigation into an organized criminal gang
Polish police raided nightclubs and arrested suspects last year during an investigation into an organized criminal group
An image shows the observation post of a strip club that was raided last year
Polish police raided a series of strip clubs in Poland last year and arrested dozens of suspects
An image shows the observation post of a strip club that was raided last year
It has tormented me every day since then. When he said “do you want to go to Krakow or Amsterdam” – if you choose Amsterdam he will still be here.
Mr. Skiba is convinced that his lifelong friend Mr. Cox was drugged and also forced into extremely strong liquor because he was a heavy drinker and could have easily walked out of the club after drinking 22 pints.
Mark wasn’t drunk when he went to the club. We only had one pint. And he came out dead.
He said Mr Cox, a Leeds United fan, was “sober and cool” when he arrived at the club, having only had a pint of beer beforehand.
He can have a drink. On a Sunday session he would return ten pints with ease.
They say he was forced to drink 22 bullets. But Mark could easily have drunk a 22-shot and get out there, I know he could have.
I am convinced that everything he drinks is laced with drugs, like a rape drug so they can steal it.
Polish prosecutors said in 2017 that Mr Cox ‘went into a state of deep intoxication’ after being given 22 unordered servings of ‘high-strength alcohol’.
They added: “Acute poisoning with ethyl alcohol led to a concentration in the victim’s body and urine, which led to the man’s death.”
Mr. Cox’s family has been trying to seek justice for his death for more than six years.
Mr. Skiba described his friend as a “big guy”. I knew him from school. We played pool together all the time. Poland was our fourth vacation together.