Vue cinemas fined £750,000 over death of customer trapped in chair | Birmingham
Vue Cinemas has been fined £750,000 for security breaches following the death of a moviegoer When he became trapped under the cinema chair rest leg in 2018.
Atiq Rafeeq, 24, died in hospital after his neck was stuck under the electric chair, which was found to have blown a fuse in his control box, while searching for his phone and keys after watching a movie.
at Birmingham On Tuesday, Crown Court Judge Heidi Kubic QC ordered the company to pay £130,000 in costs, and said Rafiq had died in an “accident that should not have happened”.
“Nothing I can say can mitigate the loss to his wife and family,” the judge said.
She said other members of the public were exposed to the same risks of harm and the “complete absence of risk assessment was a significant cause” behind the fatal accident.
At a hearing in April, Vue Entertainment Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of persons not employed by the company in connection with the use of powered cinema seats, and for failing to make an “appropriate and adequate risk assessment” of the number of defective seats.
An earlier investigation in 2019 recorded a verdict of accidental death, in which the jury judge ruled that there were “missed opportunities for comprehensive chair safety checks,” According to the BBC.
Rafeeq, a father-of-one from Aston, Birmingham, visited the cinema in Star City with his wife on March 9, 2018 and bought tickets for Gold Class seats.
At the end of the movie, he suspected his keys and phone had slipped down the side of his reclining seat, which had a footstool. As he was looking under the seat, the footrest began to come down on him and his wife, Aisha Sardar, was unable to hold it.
Staff spent 10 to 15 minutes trying to free Rafiq, who died on March 16 after developing hypoxia in the brain.
In its judgment, Kubic added that the company had no prior convictions and a “very positive health and safety record.”
In a statement issued after the sentencing, Vue said: “The death of Mr. Rafik saddened everyone at Vue and we deeply regret the loss suffered by his family and friends.
We hope that the end of these proceedings will lead to the termination of these proceedings after this tragic incident.
“All chairs of the type involved in the incident have been removed from our cinemas and we have taken all possible steps to learn from this and ensure it does not happen again.”