Designer admits safety breaches over boy’s death

Designer brand Hugo Boss has admitted health and safety breaches in connection with the 2013 death of a four-year-old boy who was crushed to death when an 18-stone mirror fell on him.

Designer admits safety breaches over boy’s death

Austen Harrison suffered “devastating” head injuries after the 6ft 6in (2m) high unsecured mirror in a changing room of a Hugo Boss store in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, came down on top of him on June 4, 2013. It left him with irreparable brain damage. He was taken off life support four days later.

Jonathan Laidlaw, for Hugo Boss UK Ltd, yesterday entered guilty pleas on behalf of the firm at Banbury Magistrates’ Court to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Prosecuting on behalf of Cherwell District Council, Barry Berlin argued that although the brand could be sentenced at the Magistrates’ Court, the maximum fine of £20,000 (€27,240) per offence was not sufficient. He asked for the matter to be sent to Crown Court, where at least a £100,000 fine per offence could be imposed.

Berlin said: “Plainly this is a very serious matter relating to a child aged four-and-a-half who on June 4 2013 was struck on the head by a seven feet tall, 18-stone free-standing three-way mirror.

“It wasn’t fixed to the wall despite its own requirements. We say bearing in mind that the injuries the child sustained resulted in his death this is a case that should be dealt with in the Crown Court.”

District Judge David Chinery agreed, saying: “This is quite plainly an exceptionally sad case and one where I consider that the penalties available in this court are clearly, clearly not appropriate to a case of this magnitude.”

In March an inquest heard the boyhad been playing with the heavy steel-framed mirror, as his father tried on a suit.

The jury returned a narrative verdict.

Coroner Darren Salter described the incident as “an accident waiting to happen”.

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