A 24-year-old father died after his neck got trapped in a cinema seat footrest as he searched for his keys and phone, an inquest has heard.

In March 2018, Ateeq Rafiq became stuck as he scrambled on the floor to find his belongings after a film at Birmingham's Star City complex.

The court was told Rafiq squeezed his whole body under the "gold class" seat before the electronic footrest came down on his neck, trapping him.

His distraught wife, Ayesha Sardar, and cinema staff desperately tried to free him, but a blown fuse meant the buttons to lift the footrest weren't working.

Advertisement

In a frantic state of panic, staff finally managed to remove the bolts from the chair, but Rafiq had already suffered a heart attack, triggered by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

He was rushed to hospital, but died a week later from "catastrophic brain injuries".

Sardar told the court of her desperate attempt to help him.

"He shouted in pain and I told him to get out from under there," she said.

"I tried to pull the footrest off but couldn't.

"I ran outside to get help but no one heard me."

Ateeq Rafiq died in a freak accident at the Vue multiplex in Birmingham. Photo / Google Street View
Ateeq Rafiq died in a freak accident at the Vue multiplex in Birmingham. Photo / Google Street View

She "ran back in" when she heard he was not breathing, and "saw that he was blue".

Charles Stephens Simmons-Jacobs, from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found it was "impossible" to lift eight out of 52 footrests in the theatre.

Advertisement

Sardar said her husband was a "loving father, son, husband and friend".

"He was always keeping himself active and had a brilliant sense of humour. His smile was the kindest and his heart was the greatest.

"There is not a day goes by that we don't miss him and think of him."

He is also survived by his 3-year-old daughter.

The inquest is expected to last up a week.