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William Hill shop sign death inquest: Family criticise ‘significant failings’ leading to lawyer’s death

PUBLISHED: 19:16 19 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:27 20 January 2015

Jacob Marx and Natalie Chung

Jacob Marx and Natalie Chung

Archant

The family of a young lawyer killed by a falling William Hill shop sign have criticised the number of “significant failings” which led to his death.

New Zealander Jacob Marx, of Islington, died when a 30ft metal sign hit his head in Camden Road, Camden Town, as the 27-year-old walked past the bookmaker on a windy day in January 2013.

An inquest jury ruled on Monday that a string of “failures” over the sign’s installation contributed to his death.

Mr Marx’s family have now called for the sign fixing industry to take action to prevent further deaths.

In a statement after the inquest’s conclusion on Monday, they said: “It has become apparent during the course of the inquest that there were significant failings surrounding the William Hill sign.

“We have been disappointed by the apparent lack of regulation, structured training, or even guidance in the sign fixing industry and we call on those authorities with the ability to do so, to institute measures to try and prevent such a tragedy ever occurring again.”

Mr Marx’s death was “entirely preventable”, they added.

The sign was erected in 2006 when the Camden Town shop underwent a re-fit.

The jury ruled that William Hill and shop re-fitter Acean Builders were responsible for “deficiencies” over the installation of the sign.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Steven Simmons-Jacobs told St Pancras Coroner’s Court last week that the sign was not properly screwed onto the building.

It could have fallen down “at anytime” since its installation, he told the jury.

Rainwater had poured into the wood behind the sign causing it to buckle and become covered in moss, the jury was told.

In addition, no-one checked to see if the wood was still in good condition, the inspector told the court.

Police decided not to bring criminal charges over the death of Mr Marx on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in October last year.

The jury returned a narrative ruling. The forewoman told the court: “In conclusion, we find that failures contributed to the death of Jacob Marx.

“Despite William Hill having systems in place above the usual standard, there were deficiencies in communication and project management between Acean and William Hill.”

In a statement, a spokesman for William Hill said: “As the inquest has heard, William Hill employs specialist and experienced contractors to install its signage. A robust maintenance programme is in place.”

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