Jacob Marx death: Court hears ‘dangerous muddle’ led to death of lawyer who was hit by betting shop sign in Camden Road

Undated family handout issued by David Marx of Jacob Marx. Picture: David Marx/PA

Undated family handout issued by David Marx of Jacob Marx. Picture: David Marx/PA - Credit: PA

Betting chain William Hill Ltd was responsible for a “dangerous muddle” during construction of the shop sign that fell and killed lawyer Jacob Marx in Camden Road, a court heard yesterday.

Jacob, 27, died after being hit by the shop sign in January 2013. He had only moved to London with his girlfriend four months previously.

At Blackfriars Crown Court a jury was told poor communication led to a situation where the sign “was inevitably going to be insecure”.

Jurors heard that, in 2006, the business greenlit a £150,000 refurbishment, and this included the installation of a new shop sign. Although initially this was to see the frame beneath the shop sign replaced, this did not happen, and instead a new sign was fitted to the pre-existing frame. This dated from a previous refurbishment in 1999.

Prosecuting, James Ageros QC told the jury that during the 2006 refurbishment there was almost no communication between shopfitter Acean, which carried out much of the refurb to the building, and Saltwell – the company responsible for fitting the sign itself.

He said: “There was a notable lack of communication between parties which needed to communicate.

“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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Mr Ageros told the jury that, because William Hill was officially noted as planning supervisor on the project, it should have been making sure contractors were aware of what was happening on-site.

He said: “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.”

This, according to the prosecution case, meant that when a contractor from Saltwell came from Newcastle to Camden to fit the sign, he did so without there being any other person on site.

Mr Ageros said: “When he came down, he found a closed shop, There was no communication between the parties. He literally came down and fitted the sign onto a closed shop and the next morning when Acean came in the sign was up.”

The prosecution has been brought by Camden Council, and sees William Hill Ltd facing two charges of failing to meet its duties under health and safety regulations.

The trial continues.