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Vue Cinemas Fined £750,000 After Death Of Customer

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Vue Cinemas Fined £750,000 After Death Of Customer

The Vue cinema chain has been fined £750,000 after a man was killed by one of its reclining chairs back in 2018.

Cinemagoer Ateeq Rafiq suffered from a cardiac arrest after the luxury 'gold class' chair exerted pressure on his neck at the Star City complex in Birmingham in March 2018, a jury heard in 2019.

The 24-year-old died after his wife, Ayesha Sardar, made attempts to get the footrest off her husband's neck.

It wouldn't move, and despite being revived after CPR treatment, Rafiq died a week later as a result of 'catastrophic' brain injuries.

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He left behind his wife and one child.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

In handing down the fine to Vue Entertainment at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Heidi Kubik QC said that Mr Rafiq's death was 'an accident that never should have happened'.

She said: "Nothing I can say can ameliorate the loss suffered by his wife and family.

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"It is conceded that clearly a number of members of the public were exposed to the same risk of harm.

"The complete lack of a risk assessment was a significant cause of the actual harm that resulted."

The judge did accept mitigating factors from the company, but still ordered them to pay £130,000 in costs as well.

Judge Kubik added: "It is obviously positive mitigation on behalf of this company that they have no previous convictions or matters coming before the court.

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"They have a very positive health and safety record."

The accident occurred when Mr Rafiq knelt down underneath the seat in order to retrieve his wallet and phone, completely unaware that the footrest of the seat was unable to be lifted by hand.

The inquest into the incident in 2019 was told that other seats in the cinema had a leg rest that lifts, having been fitted with a different actuator.

Vue Entertainment pleaded guilty to the charges after being placed under investigation by Birmingham City Council.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The cinema chain admitted guilt on two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, for 'failing to ensure that persons not in their employment are not exposed to risk to their health or safety' and 'failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment'.

According to BBC News, the Birmingham coroner said there were 'missed opportunities to undertake comprehensive safety checks of the chairs'.

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

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A statement from Vue Entertainment reads: "The death of Mr. Rafiq saddened everybody at Vue and we remain deeply sorry for the loss suffered by his family and friends.

"We hope that that the end of these proceedings brings some closure to them following this tragic accident.

"All recliners 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 could not happen again."

Topics: UK News, TV and Film, Money, UK Entertainment, Cinema

Tom Wood
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