Vue Entertainment Ltd admits safety failures following man’s death
A cinema has admitted health and safety failures after a reclining seat came down on a man’s neck and killed him.
Ateeq Rafiq had gone to the cinema with his wife on 9 March 2018, Birmingham Crown Court was told. Once the film was over, the 24-year-old realised he could not find either his keys or his phone. Thinking they may have slipped down the side of the seat, he got up and went under the seat to look, but very quickly the footrest started to come down on him, causing him ‘catastrophic’ injuries. The incident happened at Vue in Star City Centre, Birmingham in March 2018.
An inquest previously heard that his wife, Ayesha Sardar, tried to hold it up when she realised what was happening. She alerted staff who tried to release Mr Rafiq for about 10 to 15 minutes. They were unable to get the button which operated the footrest to work, and eventually had to break it off.
Mr Rafiq was taken to Heartlands Hospital by paramedics, where he died a week later from a hypoxic brain injury. A week-long inquest was told the seat was missing a bar that would have allowed him to be released by hand.
Vue Entertainment Ltd admitted two charges at Birmingham Crown Court under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that persons were not exposed to risk to their health and safety and failing to make a suitable and safe risk assessment between 1 January 2007 and 9 March 2018 in relation to the use of powered cinema seating.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Birmingham coroner Emma Brown 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,” she said.
Following the inquest, a Vue spokesperson said: “We are shocked and saddened by this tragic accident and our sincerest thoughts and condolences go to Mr Rafiq’s family and friends. ‘We have been listening carefully to all of the evidence and information and will now reflect on the findings of the inquest.”
The crown court sentencing was adjourned until July 20.
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