Hugo Boss fined £1.2m for health and safety breaches
Hugo Boss has been fined £1.2m after a four-year-old boy died at one its shops.
Austen Harrison was killed by an 18-stone (114kg) changing room mirror, which fell on him at the Hugo Boss outlet in Bicester Village in 2013.
He was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, where he underwent an emergency operation to relieve pressure on his brain but died four days later in hospital after his life-support machine was switched off.
Hugo Boss admitted to health and safety breaches at a hearing at Banbury Magistrates’ Court on 2 June for failing to secure mirror.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, defending, entered a guilty plea for the company to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
However, Barry Berlin, prosecuting on behalf of Cherwell District Council, told the court that the label should be sentenced at the crown court because the maximum fine at magistrates’ court was only £20,000.
He suggested the case should be sentenced in the crown court where the recommended starting point of a £100,000 fine per offence could be imposed or even exceeded.
“Plainly this 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,” he added.
“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, that this is a case that should be dealt with in the crown court.”
An inquest concluded the mirror should have been fixed to a wall, while coroner Darren Salter described the incident as “an accident waiting to happen”.
In sentencing the company today (4 Sep), Oxford Crown Court Judge Peter Ross said Hugo Boss had a “corporate responsibility”, and he wanted to ensure the issue went to the “very top of the company”.
He said it “would have been obvious to the untrained eye” that the mirror posed a risk, adding that it was “nothing short of a miracle” that it had not happened sooner.
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