William Hill cleared after 440lb sign killed lawyer

Bookmaker William Hill is cleared of health and safety offences after 440lb falling sign killed ‘spectacularly unlucky’ lawyer, 27, as he walked along road

  • Jacob Marx, 27, was passing a William Hill shop when he was crushed to death  
  • The lawyer was walking on Camden Road when 30 ft, 200kg sign fell on him
  • Marx suffered a broken neck, a fractured skull and went into cardiac arrest 

Bookmaker William Hill has been cleared of health and safety offences after a 400lbs sign fell and killed a ‘spectacularly unlucky’ lawyer.

Jacob Marx, 27, was passing a William Hill shop on Camden Road, north London, when the 30 foot sign crushed him.

Several people tried to lift the heavy metal sign off him but he had gone into cardiac arrest by the time paramedics arrived.

Jacob Marx, 27, was passing a William Hill shop on Camden Road, north London, when a 30 foot sign weighing 440 lbs (200kg) crushed him

The signage fell down onto Mr Marx as he was passing the betting stop in January 2013

He suffered broken neck, a fractured skull and was pronounced dead hours later at the University College Hospital on January 28, 2013.

James Ageros, QC, prosecuting, said the shop was being refurbished and there was no communication between shopfitter Acean, and Saltwell – the company responsible for fitting the sign itself.

He said: ‘There was a lack of formality. There were assumptions about what was to be done and by whom, and there was a lack of joined-up thinking.’

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William Hill should have been making sure contractors were aware of what was happening on-site as they were the planning supervisor on the project, Mr Ageros said.

He added: ‘There was something of a dangerous muddle. The two contractors were not talking to each other and above them William Hill was not ensuring there was a conversation between them.

An inquest into Mr Marx’s death ruled that William Hill was not to blame

‘The sign was insecurely fixed on to a wooden sub-frame and parts of the sub-frame 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 passer-by, customer or indeed employee.

‘Mr Marx was spectacularly unlucky to be in just the wrong place at just the wrong time.’

Carlos Park, who fitted the sign in 2006 for Saltwell Signs, told the court he had a ‘good fix’ when attaching the sign.

He said: ‘The fascia was solid. I can tell when I am taking the screws out (of the old sign)’. 

Mr Marx, originally from Gisbourne, east New Zealand, had been in the UK with his girlfriend Natalie Chung for four months prior to his death. 

A spokesman for Camden Council, who brought the case against William Hill, said after the acquittal: ‘We of course respect the jury’s verdict, but it was important that the facts of this tragic death were fully explored in court.

‘The Council remains committed to investigating and prosecuting matters such as these when it is in the public interest to do so. The Council’s sympathies remain with Jacob Marx’s family.’ 

Mr Marx suffered broken neck and a fractured skull after the signage crushed him

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