Dad, 24, crushed to death by reclining cinema seat as Vue admits health and safety charges

VUE has admitted to health and safety breaches after a young dad was crushed to death by a reclining cinema seat.

Ateeq Rafiq, 24, died after the freak accident involving an electronic chair at Star City in Birmingham in March 2018.

Vue Entertainment Ltd admitted in Birmingham Crown Court yesterday to failing to ensure Mr Rafiq's safety, the Birmingham Mail reported.

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 in relation to the use of powered cinema seating.

Sentencing was adjourned until July 20.

Mr Rafiq was crushed as he tried to search for his keys and phone under his Gold Class seat on March 9.

The reclining seat had a footrest which was pulled up, but as the dad-of-one looked under the seat the footrest came down on him.

His wife Ayesha Sardar desperately tried to hold the footrest up and alerted staff, an inquest previously heard.

Cinema workers tried for 15 minutes to free Mr Rafiq from the seat, but the buttons which operated the footrest weren't working.

Paramedics eventually arrived and Mr Rafiq was rushed to Heartlands Hospital.

He died on March 16 from a lack of oxygen to the brain.


The inquest into his death heard that the seat that crushed Mr Rafiq was missing a bar that would have enable him to be freed.

Birmingham Coroner Emma Brown recorded a ruling of accidental death but added there were "missed opportunities to undertake comprehensive safety checks of the chairs", the BBC reported.

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

A spokesperson for Vue said after the inquest: "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."

At the time of his death, a family member told The Sun Online that they were "devastated".

She said: "It is so sad what has happened. He was with his wife at the time who is just in absolute shock. "We are all devastated."

A security guard, who heard the panic over the radio and rushed to help free Ateeq, said: “I was outside the cinema when I heard shouting on the radio.

“I ran into the screen and found staff members desperately trying to free a man who was stuck on the floor.

“His head was trapped underneath one of the footrests and there was a real tussle going on.

“He was panicking when I first got there but after a few minutes he just lost consciousness and went still.

“His poor wife was screaming his name as we tried to pull him back out. It was really horrible to witness.

“It took us 10 minutes to break the footrest and release him, and another staff member started performing CPR.

He added: “The ambulance arrived shortly afterwards and paramedics tried to save him. I think they managed to bring him round.

“I carried on with the rest of my shift afterwards but I was really shaken. I can’t believe he died. It’s a terrible way to go.”

Another close friend of Ateeq, who asked not to be named, said: “He was so young and had his whole life ahead of him.

“His family have lost a son, a father, a brother and a husband. He left behind a lovely daughter who is only two years old.

“He was a lovely, humble, down to earth guy who was always smiling, he literally had everything to live for.

“We are all devastated to have lost him so early and are in shock. We cannot believe it.”

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