Vue admits health and safety failures as man dies from 'catastrophic injuries' at cinema

Credit: BPM Media

Cinema chain, Vue, has admitted failures in health and safety after a man from Aston who went to their Star City venue in Birmingham died when a reclining seat came down on his neck.

Desperate attempts were made to release Ateeq Rafiq, 24, but he suffered "catastrophic" injuries from the freak accident in March 2018.

Vue Entertainment Ltd admitted two charges at Birmingham Crown Court under the Health and Safety at Work 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 January 1st 2007 and March 9th 2018 in relation to the use of powered cinema seating.

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Sentencing was adjourned until July 20th.

The dad-of-one had gone with his wife to the cinema on March 9th and bought tickets from a machine for seats in Gold Class, screen 17.

At the end of the film he realised he could not find his keys or his phone and suspected they may have slipped down the side of the reclining seat which had a footrest which pulled up.

He got up and went under the seat but very quickly the footrest started to come down on him.

An inquest previously heard that his wife Ayesha Sardar tried to hold it up when she realised what was happening.

Mrs Sardar alerted staff who tried for about 10 to 15 minutes before releasing Mr Rafiq.

They could not get the buttons which operated the footrest to work.

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Paramedics arrived and Mr Rafiq was taken to Heartlands Hospital where he died on March 16th after suffering a hypoxic brain injury due to a lack of oxygen being supplied to the brain.

A week-long inquest was told the seat was missing a bar that would have allowed him to be released by hand.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Birmingham Coroner Emma Brown said there had been “missed opportunities to undertake comprehensive safety checks of the chairs”.

She said:

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

Emma Brown

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."