COUNCIL chiefs have apologised after a lawyer was trapped in a council car park lift for so long that he gave up on being rescued and forced his way out.

Ben May was stuck four floors up at the Bedford Place multi-storey car park in Southampton for more than an hour and grew so scared that he made his escape.

Southampton City Council is looking into Mr May’s ordeal after he complained, and it is checking to see if the lift was vandalised prior to Mr May using it.

Mr May said: “I was trapped in a freezing cold lift growing steadily more scared that I was either going to be trapped there all night or the lift might malfunction further and drop me the four stories to the ground.”

He added: “I was worried and a more nervous person could have gone into a full blown panic attack.”

Mr May, a criminal defence lawyer at Eric Robinson Solicitors in Bitterne, Southampton, was on his way home when the inner doors opened but the exterior doors remained “firmly locked”.

The inner doors then began to close but stopped with “a sharp juddering noise which caused the entire lift to shake”.

Mr May pushed the alarm button and was told on the lift intercom that an engineer was coming out but he grew “very agitated by the manner the lift was shaking every time the interior doors tried to close”.

Mr May said it got “more and more nerve-racking” and he grew more concerned by the cold when his fingers started to go numb. He spent ten minutes investigating the outer doors and found a catch to release them.

He said: “I levered the doors open for a final time and hurled myself out of the lift before the doors could close on me.”

A Southampton City Council spokesman said: “We are very sorry to hear that a resident was trapped in one of our car park lifts and apologise for the inconvenience this caused. We work hard with our contractors to make sure car park lifts are in good working order and to get to anyone stuck in a lift as quickly as possible.

“We will certainly look at this to see what happened here."