A child was injured when a display fell at a Topshop in Glasgow just six days before a 10-year-old was killed by the same type of barrier at a branch in Reading, a jury heard today.
The Arcadia Group, now owned by Sir Philip Green, who owned Topshop when Caden Riddick was murdered, has now come to trial for breach of health and safety, as have the bulkhead suppliers and shopkeepers who installed it.
Prosecutor James Ageros QC told the jury that the fracture of the schoolgirl’s skull in Glasgow should have been a warning to the companies involved but no urgency was applied in the investigation.
Caden was killed after a 17-stone queuing barrier at a Topshop in Oracle, Reading, fell on his head on February 13, 2017. The boy had just finished watching a movie at a nearby cinema on a family outing at the time. tragedy.
In another incident 18 months before the tragedy, he crushed another customer in a Manchester store.
The jury was shown emails between designers and engineers expressing concerns about the safety of the fender design – but no prototypes were ever made.
Sir Philip Green has now disbanded Arcadia Group, which owned the Topshop chain when Kaden Reddick (pictured) was murdered
Mr. Ageros said Topshop, which had about 2,150 stores globally at the time, parent company Arcadia Group, and fender manufacturers Realm Projects Ltd are responsible for the 3-foot-high, 6-foot-wide fender on Kaden’s head.
Fender technicians, Stoneforce, have already admitted to the health and safety charges, but Topshop, Arcadia and Realm Projects Ltd have denied the charges.
Opening the two-month trial, the prosecutor said: ‘Caden Riddick was killed when a queuing barrier overturned and hit his forehead while balancing on top of it.
At the top of the barrier were baskets encouraging impulse purchases. These items were attractive to children. Caden and his younger sister approached the bulkheads and were curious about what was in the baskets.
Proceed to view the pictures of the jury: “ In the pictures you can see the base where the external bulkhead is fixed with screws only – more convenient for hanging pictures on the wall, not carrying something heavy. It was only these two screws that held the fender to the ground.
“No one at any time during this process has calculated the loads they would need to carry in a busy shopping environment and to keep them safe on the floor.”
The health and safety issues “are not a single incident,” the lawyer said.
He continued: “Other barriers in other Tubman and Topshop stores were unstable and also posed the risk of collapse.
Six days before Kaden’s death, a similar barrier, this time completely unfastened, fell into a shop in Glasgow and a child sustained serious injuries including a fractured skull.
While the Stoneforce (mechanics) failed to properly repair the baffles, the claim’s case is that its failures are not the only ones in this case. That’s why charges were brought against these three other companies.
Caden was killed after he landed a 17-stone queuing barrier at a Topshop in Oracle, Reading, on the head on February 13, 2017.
“Arcadia simply did not exercise the proper level on contractors. It did not ensure that tests were conducted on the stability of the fender. It was not designed to the correct standards.
Realm (manufacturers) should have thought about what anchors are needed to keep the fender secure in a busy retail store. The attorney general added that they provided no information whatsoever to maintain the stability of these barriers in the store, arguing that this is a breach of duty.
The attorney general went into more detail about how a similar incident, a foot crushing of a client, occurred in Manchester a full 18 months before Caden’s death.
He added: ‘On April 2, 2015, there was a similar barrier at the Manchester Trafford Center Topshop. This also fell and hasn’t been fixed. Caused serious injury to the shopper’s foot. What the prosecution says, obviously, is that the consequences could have been much more serious.
No safety investigations have been conducted in other stores. If this action (initiation of the investigation) was taken in the Glasgow incident, why not with Trafford in 2015? This should have put Arcadia aware.
They should have proceeded to investigate all the barriers after that point. It was too little and too late.’
The jury was told that Arcadia’s Director of Health and Safety, Wesley Cox, immediately traveled to the store to investigate the Glasgow bulkhead collapse and a decision was made for all Topshop stores to inquire about their bulkheads.
The attorney general continued to show the jury the barrier designs, which were installed during the retooling of the store from 2013-2014, and detailed how the original design, using metal column structures under the Corian heavy countertop, was replaced by wood-MDF structures.
The jury was shown how emails between designers and engineers expressed their concern for the safety of the fender design. Modifications were made, but no prototypes were ever made.
CCTV footage of the moments before Caden was killed by a barricade, shows him swinging before swinging under him and pulling furniture over his head.
The Berkshire coroner previously confirmed that Kaden died of a head injury. The video was cut before his body hit the ground.
The boy had just finished watching a movie in a nearby cinema on a family outing at the time of the tragedy
Mr. Ageros said: “No proper consideration has been given to the forces and limitations to which the baffles are subject in their daily use. Arcadia never checked the condition of the baffles other than their appearance. There were no checks during this three-year period.
The jury was also shown several CCTV clips of Reading Topshop, in which customers accidentally caused the bulkhead to wobble, as well as children swinging between the barriers. He claimed that Arcadia should have been aware of these incidents in the days leading up to the tragedy.
Topshop, Arcadia and Realm Projects Ltd are accused of failing to perform their health and safety duty, and of failing to ensure that the design, manufacture and maintenance of the barrier does not pose a risk to the health and safety of anyone not employed by them. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The three companies deny the charges. Today the jury heard Stoneforce Ltd, the company that erected the barriers at the store, earlier pleaded guilty to health and safety charges against them.
If found guilty, Arcadia and Topshop, which entered management in November 2020, could face massive fines after staff failed to test barriers, despite the other incident with a barrier at a Glasgow shop.
The trial continues, with Judge Heather Norton presiding over.