THE 110-kilogram Topshop queue barrier that killed 10-year-old Kaden Reddick was secured by only two narrow screws that were ‘more suitable for hanging a picture’, a court has heard.

On the opening day of the trial into the Burghfield boy’s death on February 13, 2017, a jury heard how the barriers were made to be ‘enticing’ and the items on them were ‘attractive to children’.

Jurors were shown the heartbreaking moments before Kaden -- who was swinging on the barrier -- died after it fell and hit him on the forehead.

Reading Chronicle: An image of the barrier taken in 2014An image of the barrier taken in 2014

His death came just six days after a similar incident in a Glasgow Topshop store where a barrier fell on a young girl and fractured her skull.

Topshop did begin to investigate the safety of the barriers after this incident, but their probe did not have the ‘focus or urgency’ required, a prosecutor at Reading Crown Court claimed.

READ MORE: Everything the jury heard on day one of Topshop death trial

Almost five years after his death, three companies are standing trial charged with health and safety breaches that led to the tragic incident.

Arcadia Group was the parent company of Topshop and Topman Ltd. The former was charged after it commissioned the design of the barriers.

Realm Projects Ltd manufactured and designed the queue barriers at the Reading store, including the one that was in the incident barrier.

Barristers for Topshop/Top Man Ltd, Arcadia and Realm Projects Ltd all deny the charges against the companies.

A fourth company, Stoneforce Ltd, has already pleaded guilty, and installed the queue barriers at the Topshop store.

Opening the trial, James Ageros QC, representing Reading Borough Council, said the prosecution’s case was that all three companies failed to carry out health and safety duties to ensure shoppers were not exposed to risk from the barriers.

He said the queue barrier had a dual function -- to mark where shoppers should stand to pay and to entice customers to purchase items.

“These were items that were attractive to children”, Mr Ageros said.

The plinth within the barrier had been fixed to the floor with only two narrow screws, the prosecutor said, claiming this was “more suitable for hanging a picture”.

He claimed the screws failed, causing the incident.

Mr Ageros said the incident was not a one-off.

“Another barrier in the same shop was equally unstable and could have tipped over at any time”, he added.

“It wasn't just confined to the Reading store. Other barriers in other Topshop stores across the country were also unstable.”

This included a barrier in a Topshop store in Manchester.

In 2015, the barrier in this store was not fixed to the ground and subsequently fell over and caused serious injury to a shopper’s foot.

However, no investigation was carried out on the barriers in other stores following this incident, the court heard.

“This ought to have put Arcadia on notice in relation to barriers”, Mr Ageros said.

Disaster struck again on February 7, 2019, when a young girl was left with a fractured skull after a barrier (similar to the one that caused Kaden’s death) toppled over.

Following this incident, retail operations chiefs at Topshop emailed store managers surveys asking them to verify if their barriers were wobbly.

However, the email failed to mention why the survey was being carried out, omitting any mention of the Glasgow incident.

13 'yes' answers were received following the survey email.

READ MORE: Two found guilty of murder at Reading Crown Court

Reading’s Topshop manager responded to the survey saying the barriers were fixed to the ground.

Despite this, CCTV footage from four days before Kaden’s death showed a shopper almost causing the barrier to topple over after leaning on it while queuing at the Reading store.

An email from a Milton Keynes store manager, however, identified a 'major issue' with the Topman barriers in which the fixtures were so unstable they could be lifted out of the floor and 'if pushed, would be able to fall over'.

Mr Ageros argued the investigation was ‘inappropriate’ and should have been carried out with more ‘intensity and urgency’.

Reading Crown Court heard how the barrier that caused Kaden’s death was installed during a 2014 refit of the store.

However, it had never been subjected to any kind of stability test from 2014 to 2017, when Kaden died.

“There were various stages throughout this period [2014-2017] where it would have been practicable for Arcadia to have done more [safety checks], Mr Ageros said.

“Throughout this period, they did not do enough.”

The day after Kaden's death, Topshop recalled all barriers from its 400-plus stores. 

The trial is set to continue on Monday, January 17.