A disabled man became trapped in a faulty electric door at a block of council flats which "crushed" him as he lay screaming on the floor.

Michael Richmond has suffered from debilitating lung condition Bronchiectasis for five years and has been bed-bound for three years after breaking his spine.

The 75-year-old, who struggles to breathe even when resting, was returning home from a rare trip outside to see his brothers in London on May 1, but after eventually navigating the four flights of steps down to the door of Napier House, Brighton, his day turned into a nightmare.

“I had managed to lift my walker down the stairs and the taxi driver reluctantly took my luggage to the main door,” said Michael.

The Argus: The door which crushed Michael for 15 minutesThe door which crushed Michael for 15 minutes (Image: The Argus)

“But after he left, I found the automatic door wouldn’t open. I struggled to get my luggage through the door and then collapsed.

“It’s a monster of a door and as it began closing, I was trapped with the motor trying to close it on me. I shouted for help for around 15 minutes while it was crushing me.

“I was distraught and sick as a dog. Eventually a passer-by heard my cries.

"When I got into my flat, I sat in my bath fully clothes with the shower on.”

The door to Napier House should open automatically, stay open for a short period of time, then close. But the first phase was faulty and required users to yank it open.

“My condition means I cannot stand up unaided for more than a few minutes at a time or else I’ll faint,” said Michael.

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“I can only go out once a month for more than a few minutes. It is a constant struggle to breathe.”

The Argus stepped in and spoke with the city council after the door was broken for around two weeks.

And while it has now been repaired, Michael’s torment continues.

The flats in his building also share a central ventilation system which runs up through the building, with a vent in each of the bathrooms.

But a resident living in another property frequently smokes cigarettes, meaning the fumes waft into his flat on the third floor, he said.

The Argus: The vent in Michael's bathroom which allows smoke into his flatThe vent in Michael's bathroom which allows smoke into his flat (Image: The Argus)

“I can’t leave my home for fresh air and can’t escape the cigarette smoke that comes in from downstairs. I’m a prisoner here,” he said.

“There is a lift in my building but if there’s a fire, I’m dead.”

Former personal trainer Michael recently bought an electric wheelchair to help his mobility, however he fears it will be “useless” as there is no suitable access to Napier House for disabled people, he said.

He said: “How am I going to get an electric wheelchair up and down four flights of steps?

The Argus: The steps leading from the door of Napier House to the pavementThe steps leading from the door of Napier House to the pavement (Image: The Argus)

“There’s a ramp from the car park at the rear of the building to a back door, but it opens outwards and closes on you when you’re trying to go through it.

"The rear door leads to a laundry room, meaning wheelchair users need to navigate two large washing machines, and two further outward-opening interior doors.

“The council needs to get someone round here who knows about making buildings suitable for people with disabilities and make the changes required,” said Michael.

Responding to Michael’s traumatic story, a spokesman for the city council apologised to the residents of Napier House for the “difficulty the main door has caused for residents.”

“Once this issue was reported to us, our specialist contractor attended within 24 hours to adjust it. It now opens long enough to allow the safe passage of residents in and out of the block.

The Argus: The automatic door was broken for around two weeksThe automatic door was broken for around two weeks (Image: The Argus)

“The safety of our residents and our properties continues to be our highest priority.

“We work closely with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to ensure we have robust fire safety procedures in place in all our blocks and carry out regular fire risk assessments.”

Michael has lived in his home for 30 years and would like to continue doing so, but after his care worker stopped visiting three years ago, he is unsure if he can.

The Argus contacted the city council regarding the issue of cigarette smoke entering Michael’s flat and the absence of a care worker, but received no response on those issues.