Crawley: Inquest Into Four Year Old Boy's Death
A four-year-old boy who was crushed to death after a 19-stone mirror fell on him in a designer shop died in "an accident that was waiting to happen,'' a coroner has stated.
Senior Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter's comments came after an inquest jury returned a narrative verdict in to the death of Austen Harrison.
The youngster had been playing with a heavy steel-framed fitting-room mirror while his father tried on a suit at a Hugo Boss shop when it toppled on to him, causing "devastating'' head injuries, Oxford Coroner's Court heard.
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.''
Austen of Crawley, West Sussex, was with his parents Simon and Irina Harrison when he was injured at the Bicester outlet village in Oxfordshire on June 4 2013 at around 8.30pm.
He underwent an emergency operation to relieve pressure on his brain but died four days later in hospital after life-support was switched off.
The inquest heard the 6ft 6in high and 118kg (19st) mirror was not fixed to the wall and that its free-standing position on the floor meant it could easily overbalance.
Austen had been playing with the mirror's large wing panels, which were attached by hinges, and as Mr Harrison turned away he heard a huge bang.
Evidence from health and safety experts suggested the mirror would have been "very unstable'' as it stood on the ground, that there was "no form of free-standing support'', and that opening the wings of the mirror would change the centre of gravity, causing it to fall forwards.
Senior Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter told the jury that it would be "appropriate'' for them to return a narrative verdict.
Whether the mirror was fixed to the wall, if the wall was reinforced and if anything had been done to check the safety of the mirror before the crash were among the factors which he asked them to consider.
He also asked them to look at whether there had been any systems in place to avoid any danger posed by the mirror.
The court was told that Hugo Boss has taken steps to improve safety for both customers and staff.