Oxford

Bicester Hugo Boss store blamed for mirror death

Austen Harrison Image copyright PA
Image caption Austen Harrison suffered "irreversible" brain damage after the large mirror fell on top of him

A four-year-old boy crushed when a mirror fell on him in a designer store died in an "accident waiting to happen", a coroner has said.

Austen Harrison suffered fatal head injuries at the Hugo Boss shop in Bicester, Oxfordshire, in June 2013.

He had been playing with the 120kg steel-framed fitting-room mirror which toppled on to him while his father tried on a suit

An inquest jury at Oxford Coroner's Court returned a narrative verdict.

The jury found: "The mirror came to fall on Austen after he moved the wings, causing the unfixed mirror to become unstable.

"The jury believes that the mirror should have been fixed to the wall and that the wall should have been reinforced. We do not believe the mirror was fixed to the wall.

"We believe there were health and safety systems in place but are not confident that these systems would have avoided any danger posed by the mirror. In any case, these systems do not seem to have been followed."

Senior Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter said he would be writing a report about the case to the chief coroner in the hope of preventing future incidents.

"It is surprising to me that the mirror stayed in its position for possibly up to six months.

"Sadly, this was an accident waiting to happen and sadly it happened to young Austen," he stated.

The coroner also said he would write to the managing director of Hugo Boss calling for improvements to be made to health and safety training.

Austen of Crawley, West Sussex, was with his parents Simon and Irina Harrison at the Bicester outlet village in Oxfordshire on June 4 2013.

He underwent an emergency operation to relieve pressure on his brain but died four days later in hospital after life-support was switched off.

Austen's family declined to comment after the inquest, nor were they prepared to say if they would be taking any further legal action.

However, the BBC understands Cherwell District Council is likely to seek a prosecution against Hugo Boss under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Image caption Austen had been playing with the free-standing mirror at Hugo Boss store in Pingle Drive

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