The child was injured by a falling screen at the Topshop store Glasgow Just six days before the 10-year-old was killed by the same type of barrier at the Reading branch, a jury heard today.
The now-disbanded Arcadia Group Sir Philip Green, who owned Topshop when Kaden Reddick was assassinated, went to trial, accused of health and safety errors, as well as barrier suppliers and vendors who installed it.
Prosecutor James Ageros QC told the jury that the fracture of a schoolgirl’s skull in Glasgow should have been a warning to the companies involved, but an investigation was not necessary.
Kaden was killed after a 17-stone queue barrier landed on his head on February 13, 2017 at the Topshop store at the Oracle store in Reading. The boy had just finished watching a movie at a nearby movie theater on a family outing at the time of the tragedy.
In another incident 18 months before the tragedy, another customer at a Manchester store was crushed.
The jury was shown emails between designers and engineers expressing concern about the safety of the barrier design – but prototypes were never made.
Now-disbanded Arcadia Group Sir Philip Green, who owned the Topshop chain when Kaden Reddick (pictured) was killed
Mr Ageros said Topshop, which at the time had around 2,150 stores worldwide, its parent company Arcadia Group and obstacle manufacturers Realm Projects Ltd, was to blame for the 3-meter-high and 6-foot-wide barrier that landed on Kaden’s head.
The dam fitters, Stoneforce, have already pleaded guilty to health and safety allegations, but Topshop, Arcadia and Realm Projects Ltd have denied the allegations against them.
At the start of the two-month trial, the prosecutor said: “Kaden Reddick was killed when the queue barrier overturned and hit him in the forehead while balancing on it.
“At the top of the barrier were baskets that encouraged customers to make impulsive purchases. These were items that were appealing to children. Kaden and his younger sister approached the obstacles and wondered what was in the baskets.
Looking at the photos of the jury, he continued: “In the pictures you can see a pedestal where the outer barrier was attached with only two screws – more suitable for hanging pictures on the wall without holding heavy objects. Only these two screws held the barrier to the ground.
“At no point during this process did anyone calculate what kind of load he would have to withstand in a busy shopping environment and to be safe on the ground.”
The lawyer said the health and safety problems were “not one-off”.
He continued: “Other barriers in other Topman and Topshop stores were unstable and also posed a threat of collapse.
Six days before Kaden’s death, a similar obstacle, this time completely unrepaired, overturned at a store in Glasgow, and the child suffered serious injuries, including a broken skull.
“Although Stoneforce (the installers) failed to correct the obstacles properly, the prosecution claims that his mistakes are not the only ones in this case. Therefore, charges were filed against these other three companies.
Kaden was killed after a 17-stone queue barrier landed on his head on 13 February 2017 at the Topshop store in Oracle, Reading.
“Arcadia simply did not set the right level for contractors. This did not ensure that barrier stability tests were performed. It simply wasn’t designed to the right standards.
“Realm (manufacturers) should consider what fastenings are needed to keep the barrier safe in transport trade. They did not provide any information at all to make these barriers to trade stable, “the prosecutor added, claiming that this was a breach of duty.
The prosecutor went into more detail on how a similar incident that shattered a client’s leg happened in Manchester a full 18 months before Kaden’s death.
He added: “On 2 April 2015, there was a similar hurdle at the Manchester Trafford Center Topshop. This, too, fell and was not repaired. This caused severe damage to the customer’s foot. The prosecution says the consequences could be much worse.
“No safety investigations have been conducted in other stores. If this measure (the start of the investigation) was taken with the Glasgow incident, why not with Trafford in 2015? That should alert Arcadia.
“After this point, we should start investigating all the obstacles. It was too little, too late. ‘
The jury was told that Arcadia’s head of health and safety, Wesley Cox, immediately traveled to the store to investigate the collapse of the Glasgow barrier, and a decision was made that all Topshop stores inquire about their barriers.
The prosecutor then showed the jury the plans for the barrier installed during the renovation of the store in 2013-2014, detailing how the original design, which used metal pillar structures under the heavy Corian, was replaced by a wooden-MDF structure.
The jury was shown how emails between designers and engineers expressed concern about the safety of the barrier design. Adjustments were made, but prototypes were never made.
A CCTV clip of moments before Kadena was killed by a barrier, and showing him swinging before he swung under her and pulled furniture on top of his head.
A Berkshire meter had previously confirmed that Kaden had died from a traumatic head injury. The video was cut before his body came in contact with the ground.
At the time of the tragedy, the boy had just finished watching a movie at a nearby cinema on a family outing
Mr Ageros said: “The forces and constraints to which obstacles have been exposed in day-to-day use have not been duly taken into account. Arcadia has never checked the condition of the barriers other than their appearance. There were no inspections during this three-year period. ‘
The jury was also shown several footage of the CCTV Reading Topshop, where customers accidentally caused the barrier to swing, as well as children rocking between obstacles. He argued that Arcadia should have noticed these incidents in the days before the tragedy.
Topshop, Arcadia and Realm Projects Ltd are accused of failing to comply with health and safety obligations for failing to ensure that the design, construction and maintenance of the barrier do not pose a risk to the health and safety of anyone not employed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. in 1974.
All three companies deny the allegations. Stoneforce Ltd, which has set up barriers to trade, has previously admitted health and safety allegations, a jury heard today.
If convicted, Arcadia and Topshop, which took over in November 2020, could face huge fines for staff failing to test obstacles, despite another obstacle incident at a Glasgow store.
The trial, presided over by Judge Heather Norton, continues.