Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham cinema seat crush death 'accidental'

Star City and Vue cinema Image copyright Google
Image caption Ateeq Rafiq died after becoming trapped under a Gold Class chair at Vue cinema, based at StarCity in Birmingham

A man who became fatally trapped under a cinema seat's footrest died accidentally, an inquest has found.

Ateeq Rafiq, 24, died a week after he got stuck searching for his possessions under the seat at Vue Cinema in Birmingham's StarCity.

The inquest heard the Gold Class seat was missing a bar that would have allowed him to be released by hand.

The father-of-one, from Aston, suffered "catastrophic" brain injuries in March 2018.

Returning a ruling of accidental death, the jury foreman said there had been "missed opportunities to undertake comprehensive safety checks of the chairs".

"If the seat had been fitted and maintained in the correct manner, Mr Rafiq would not have died," he said.

The inquest heard how the seat's footrest lowered while Mr Rafiq searched for his keys and phone, trapping his head and neck beneath it.

The Health and Safety Executive said the force that came down on him was the equivalent to a weight of three-quarters of a tonne.

The missing bar would have allowed the footrest to be lifted by hand but Vue said it never received these as part of footrest motor replacement kits which manufacturer Figueras International said it sent out.

Coroner Emma Brown said she was satisfied no further risk was posed by the chairs, which are no longer in Vue cinemas or being made by the manufacturer.

'Loving father'

Cinema staff spent 15 minutes trying to release Mr Rafiq and his wife, Ayesha Sardar, remembered as turning "blue".

Vue Cinemas said it was "shocked and saddened by this tragic accident".

A spokesperson added: "We will now reflect on the findings of the inquest."

Figueras International said it felt "the investigation has been thorough, and all evidence has been carefully considered by the jury".

"We extend our deepest sympathies to all of Mr Rafiq's family" the company said.

Mr Rafiq's family remembered him as "a loving father, son, husband and friend".

"There is not a day goes by we do not miss him or think of him dearly," they said, adding their pain "can never be described".

Birmingham City Council said it was pursuing its own investigation to establish if health and safety laws were breached and, if so, what further action should be taken.

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