Birmingham cinema tragedy: Electronic seat had blown fuse, inquest told

An electronic cinema chair that fatally trapped a Birmingham, film-goer was found to have a blown fuse in its control box, an inquest has heard.

The Vue Cinema at Star City in Birmingham. Photo: Google
The Vue Cinema at Star City in Birmingham. Photo: Google

On the first day of the inquest, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector said the chair occupied by the father-of-one was among eight in the 52-seat screening room on which the footrest was impossible to lift by hand.

HSE principal specialist inspector Charles Simmons-Jacobs told the hearing other luxury seats had a footrest which could be lifted up due to being fitted with a different actuator.

In a statement read to an inquest jury by the coroner, Mr Rafiq's widow told how her husband's neck was trapped and how she and staff tried to free him.

Mr Simmons-Jacobs was asked to visit the Vue Cinema at Birmingham's Star City complex on March 27 last year as part of a city council inquiry.

He told the court the "gold class" seats were fitted with a pressure pad, meaning the controls only worked when a customer was seated.

Control box

After a customer vacated one of the seats, the control box waited for four seconds before returning the headrest and footrest to vertical positions, the inquest heard.

The seat occupied by Mr Rafiq - C5 - was found after the accident to have a blown fuse.

Mr Simmons-Jacobs told the hearing: "The control box that was in C5 originally would not work again because a fuse had blown inside the control box.

"When the rest came down on the deceased and it was stopped from going further, the electrical current built up inside the box to such an extent that the fuse blew."

The inspector found that as well as eight leg-rests in the screening room where Mr Rafiq was trapped, six others elsewhere in the cinema would also not pull up by hand.

Mr Rafiq, from Aston, suffered a cardiac arrest but was revived by CPR at the scene and taken to Heartlands Hospital.

He died a week later from "catastrophic" brain injuries.

The inquest continues.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News