Sign which fell and killed lawyer was dangerously insecure, court told

A 200 kg sign which crushed and killed a young lawyer after falling two metres from a betting shop had been “dangerously insecure for a long period of time”, a court has heard.

Jacob Marx, 27, had been living and working in London for four months before he was hit by the sign covering a William Hill bookmakers on Camden Road, north London, in 2013.

The New Zealander suffered a broken neck and fractured skull after he was hit just before 5pm on January 28.

Jacob Marx
Jacob Marx was killed when a sign fell off a William Hill shop (David Marx/PA)

He died about an hour later, Blackfriars Crown Court heard on Friday.

William Hill Organisation Ltd denies breaching health and safety duties in regard to both employees and non-employees in the case, which was brought by the borough of Camden.

Opening the prosecution case, James Ageros QC told jurors: “The sign was insecurely fixed on to a wooden subframe, and parts of the subframe were insecurely fixed to each other.

“The sign had been dangerously insecure for a long period of time and could equally have fallen on any other passerby, customer or indeed employee.

“Mr Marx was spectacularly unlucky to be in just the wrong place at just the wrong time.”

The bookmaker had enlisted various subcontractors to carry out the fittings, with work starting on the sign in 2006, jurors heard.

Mr Ageros added: “William Hill had the overriding and overall duty that what was done on its behalf was safe and did not present a risk to the public.”

William Hill Organisation Ltd is charged with one count of failing to ensure the safety of non-employees and one count of failing to ensure the safety of employees, both contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The company has pleaded not guilty to the charges.