"an accident that never should have happened."
Vue Cinema has been fined £750,000 after a customer was trapped and crushed to death under a faulty chair.
The incident happened at the Star City venue in Birmingham in March 2018.
Desperate attempts were made to release 24-year-old Ateeq Rafiq, however, he suffered “catastrophic” injuries when the reclining seat came down on his neck.
Vue Entertainment Ltd had previously admitted two charges at Birmingham Crown Court under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
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 between January 1 2007 and March 9 2018, in relation to the use of powered cinema seating.
Judge Heidi Kubic also ordered the company to pay £130,000 in costs.
She explained: “Mr Rafiq attended the Vue cinema to watch a film with his wife.
“He sustained fatal injuries while trapped underneath the cinema seat while searching for his phone. He was just 24.
“It was an accident that never should have happened.
“Others were exposed to the same risk of harm. There were 15 chairs in regular use throughout the cinema over the relevant period of time.
“The complete lack of risk assessment to identify the risk in this case was significant.”
Mr Rafiq had gone to the cinema with his wife at 4:30 pm on March 9, 2018. He purchased tickets for seats in Gold Class, screen 17.
The couple picked C5 and C6 with Mr Rafiq sitting in C5.
At the end of the film, Mr Rafiq realised he could not find his keys or phone and suspected they may have fallen down the side of the reclining seat, which had a footrest which pulled up.
He went under the seat but very quickly, the footrest started to come down on him.
The prosecutor Ben Mills said:
“He would not have been aware that the footrest automatically returned to the closed position in a period of a few seconds.
“He tried to shuffle out but it was pushing down on him because of the faulty installation.”
His wife and others tried to rescue him and he was eventually pulled free after bolts were removed.
Attempts to use an electronic panel failed because a fuse blew.
It was previously heard that his wife Ayesha Sardar tried to hold the footrest up when she realised what was happening.
She alerted staff who tried for around 15 minutes before releasing Mr Rafiq, but they could not get the buttons that operated the footrest to work.
Paramedics arrived at 7:55 pm and he was taken to Heartlands Hospital. Mr Rafiq tragically died on March 16 after suffering a hypoxic brain injury.
An inquest heard that the seat was missing a bar that would have allowed Mr Rafiq to be released by hand.
Birmingham Coroner Emma Brown recorded a verdict of accidental death and said there had been “missed opportunities to undertake comprehensive safety checks of the chairs”.
She added: “If the seat had been fitted and maintained in the correct manner, Mr Rafiq would not have died.”