Jacob Marx inquest: Court hears William Hill betting shop sign was not secured properly
PUBLISHED: 19:46 12 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:47 13 January 2015
The tragic death of a young lawyer from a falling William Hill shop sign was “waiting to happen” because the sign was not secured properly, an inquest has heard.
New Zealander Jacob Marx, 27, was hit by the 30ft metal sign in Camden Road, Camden Town, as he walked past the bookmaker nearly two years ago.
The sign could have fallen down “at anytime, with anyone” since it been erected several years prior to the incident, Health and Safety Executive inspector Steven Simmons-Jacobs told St Pancras Coroner’s Court today.
He said: “It was just waiting to happen, and it could have happened at any time with anyone.
“Unfortunately, it happened on that day with that poor gentleman passing by.”
Mr Simmons-Jacobs, who carried out an inspection to the shop-front following Mr Marx’s death, told the jury that the sign was not properly screwed in.
As a consequence, the inquest heard that it was only held up by small “panel pins”, which are not designed to withstand the weight of a large sign.
The court also heard that rainwater poured into the wood behind the sign through a small gap at the top, causing it to buckle.
No-one had checked to see if the top of the sign was still in good condition, he informed the jury.
The sign struck Mr Marx’s head and neck in front of several bystanders as the litigation lawyer walked past William Hill on the afternoon of January 28, 2013.
Five or six people wrenched the sign off him before paramedics in a passing ambulance tried to resuscitate him.
Mr Marx, of Halton Road, Islington, was taken to University College Hospital in Euston but was pronounced dead after suffering a large heart attack as the result of a severe head injury.
Off-duty policeman Pc Dylan Wright was on his way to the cinema when he heard a “loud snap”.
He told the jury: “I heard a scream. I looked over and saw there was a body underneath where the sign had fallen. I immediately ran over.”
He added: “There was blood coming out from under the sign.”
Jayne Kurgut, who works at London Zoo in Regent’s Park and witnessed the incident, said in a statement: “The wood behind the sign looked damp and rotten”.
Mr Marx’s family and girlfriend remembered Mr Marx as “thoughtful, smart and sincere”.
Parents Susan and Alan Marx said in statement: “Nothing prepared us for the overwhelming sense of shock that came with his death.”
They added: “He was a kind, fun-loving, intelligent, mischievous, exasperating, competitive and loyal friend.”
Girlfriend Natalie Chung, who was with Mr Marx for nine years until his death, said in statement: “We had planned on getting married.”
The couple had moved from New Zealand to Sydney together before making the journey to London as part of their round-the-world “trip of a lifetime”.
The inquest continues.