Sir Philip Green's defunct retail empire fined £1m over death of boy when queue barrier fell on him  | Daily Mail Online

2022-11-07 19:41:50 By : Mr. Mao Joseph

By Elly Blake For Mailonline

Published: 16:25 GMT, 14 October 2022 | Updated: 17:58 GMT, 14 October 2022 Metal Flower Stand For Decoration

Sir Philip Green

Topshop and Sir Philip Green's now defunct parent company Arcadia have been fined £1 million for health and safety failures after a boy was killed when a 17-stone queue barrier fell on him.

Kaden Reddick, 10, died at a store in Reading while out shopping with his mother, sister and grandmother in February 2017.

Arcadia Group and Topshop/Topman, formerly owned by the millionaire tycoon Sir Green, were handed the fine after being unanimously convicted by a jury of failing to properly design, install and inspect the 17-stone queue barrier which hit and fatally injured Kaden.

Stoneforce, the barrier's fitters, admitted the same health and safety failures and were today fined a nominal £1,000 after the judge heard the company had gone into liquidation.

Kaden Reddick was killed when a 17-stone queue barrier fell on him while out shopping with his family in Topshop in Reading in February 2017

Defending, Arcadia and Topshop/Topman, Simon Antrobus said: 'The companies went into administration in 2020, long before the trial. There has been a movement from administration to liquidation.

'We are very much at the end stages of both these businesses. This court needs to consider the inability to pay and the effect that will have. The fundamental cause of the barrier falling was the type of fixings used.

'It was a case of choosing light fixings or heavyweight fixings - it should have been obvious to any competent shop-fitter that the screws were inadequate. Nobody expected or intended for this to happen.'

When a company is liquidated, its assets such as property and stock are sold off to pay off its debts and creditors.

The administrators appointed to wind down the companies will be responsible for finding the funds to pay the fines from its remaining assets.

Prosecutor James Ageros said: 'The trial was in relation to an investigation following the death of Kaden Reddick on February 13, 2017, while he was out with his mum, sister and grandmother in Topshop, in The Oracle, Reading, Berkshire.

'Your Honour will recall he was 10 years old at the date of his death. The circumstances of the death were that he was hit by a queue barrier weighing around 110kg.

'Kaden had been playing and when he put some weight on the barrier it fell on top of him as a result of being poorly fitted to the floor. This was after a barrier of a similar type fell in Glasgow six days before.

'Arcadia were part-owners of Topshop/Topman and it was they who were involved in the aftermath of the Glasgow incident. Topshop was a well-known retailer, owning stores across the country. Both are now in liquidation.

'Stoneforce is also in liquidation but was a construction company which constructed shop fittings among other activities. It fitted the three queue barriers in Reading and other barriers in different shops.

'Stoneforce used inadequate fittings to install the barriers in the Topshop store - the fittings that would be appropriate for putting a [picture] on a wall, but were wholly inappropriate for a heavy object where the public have access.

A picture taken from 2014 of the Topshop Reading branch where 10-year-old Kaden Reddick was hit by a 17-stone queue barrier, resulting in his death. The jury was shown this picture of the barrier around the time it was installed

'Topshop and Arcadia's reaction to the case in Manchester Trafford, where the barrier wasn't secured at all, was shallow and inappropriate. There were serious failures within the organisation to address risks to health and safety.

'While the barrier did not give out until February 13, 2017, as they were never adequately installed, what is proper to infer is that the barrier could have given out at any time. Kaden was acting as a boy of his age, in a way you would expect.

'The barrier contained teaser items and there was evidence this was something that had attracted Kaden, so the prosecution does not accept the submission that in some way there was something unusual or unexpected in the way Kaden interacted with the barrier.

'This was to be expected and could have happened any time after the barrier was fitted in 2014. Following the incident in Glasgow, where a 10-year-old girl suffered a fractured skull as a result of the queue barrier falling over, Arcadia was fined £450,000.'

Lisa Mallett and her son Kaden pictured before his death in February 2017

Sir Philip Green's now dissolved Arcadia Group, which owned the Topshop chain when Kaden Reddick (pictured) was killed

In a victim impact statement, Kaden's mother Lisa Mallett said: 'There is a hole - a hole that is bottomless so can't be filled. Our lives are completely shattered and even after 265 weeks there is a big empty space. Home no longer feels like home.

'My children's lives have needlessly been torn to pieces and nothing but Kaden can fix it. I hate that I couldn't protect him. Shopping was meant to be something fun after the cinema so that Kaden could spend his pocket money.

'The world is a much sadder place without Kaden James Alexander Reddick in it.'

Defending Stoneforce, Dominic Kay said: 'It's rather an unedifying scene for Kaden's family to hear a company's submissions about money. This is absolutely not a situation where a business was 'wound-down' to avoid punishment.

'Stoneforce received almost all of its money from Arcadia and its subsidiaries - when Arcadia went into administration the work for Stoneforce

deceased almost overnight. The company has debts of around £3 million.

'Stoneforce wishes to express its remorse and regret to Kaden's family. All I can do is repeat their unreserved apology.'

Sentencing, Judge Heather Norton said: 'I would like to pay tribute to Kaden's family, who came almost every day of the trial in-person or over video link.

'You had to relive over and over the events of that terrible day.

Kaden's family had been to see the film 'Sing' at the Vue cinema at the Oracle shopping centre before deciding to 'make a day of it' by going shopping, stopping first at Topshop (pictured)

Topshop and its now defunct parent company Arcadia, owned by Sir Philip Green, was fined a combined total of £1 million - but the judge warned it would have been higher if the companies were still operating

'It is always humbling to see how a family can act in such dignity in such unbearable circumstances. I offer my condolences to you.

'I know that the only sentence I can give is a financial one, but I know the state the companies are in so whatever I can do is limited.

'For a child to die on an ordinary day in an ordinary shop must carry a particular pain and shock.

'The risk these queue barriers possessed should have been and was, forseen by the defendant companies.

'It was obvious that the barriers, which were top-heavy, needed to be fixed to the floor. It was a heavy item with a high centre of gravity.

'It should have been obvious it could be pushed over when left free-standing.'

Arcadia was fined £650,000 and Topshop/Topman was handed a £350,000 fine.

The judge stated that, had the companies been operating, Arcadia would have been fined more than £1.3 million, and Topshop/Topman would have been fined £650,000.

Stoneforce was fined a nominal £1,000 on the account that 'there is no money at all - no amount will be paid'.

However, she stated it would have been fined £700,000.

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