Two now-defunct companies have been found guilty of health and safety breaches in relation to the death of a ten-year-old boy at Reading’s Topshop store. 

Kaden Reddick, from Burghfield, died on February 13, 2017, after a 110-kg barrier fell on him at The Oracle’s Topshop store. 

Following a two-month trial, Arcadia Group Ltd and Topshop/Topman Ltd, two businesses now in administration, were found guilty of health and safety breaches in connection with Kaden’s death. 

READ MORE: Barrier that killed boy held in by two screws, court hears

A third company, Realm Projects Ltd, was acquitted by a jury after 20 hours and 29 minutes of deliberations. 

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 involved in the incident.

Stoneforce Ltd had already admitted to health and safety breaches prior to the trial starting in January 2022. 

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.

A court heard how the barrier was secured by only two narrow screws that were ‘more suitable for hanging a picture’.

READ MORE: Video shows barrier that killed boy wobbling before passing

At the start of the trial, jurors were shown the heartbreaking moments before Kaden -- who was swinging on the barrier -- died after it fell and hit him on the forehead.

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.

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.”

An inquest held in March 2020 heard how Kaden, from Burghfield, had been in the store with his mother, grandmother and two siblings after a family trip to the cinema, when the incident occurred.

He had been spotted swinging on the store’s queue barrier just minutes before it toppled on top of him, hitting him on the head.

During the inquest, Kaden’s mother, Lisa Mallett, said her son was a “loving, cheeky and energetic child.”

 She added: “Kaden was a very special little boy, he was a loving, cheeky, energetic child. A wonderful son, brother and friend to many and is greatly missed by all who knew him.”

The verdict was delivered at Reading Crown Court on Monday, March 21. 

The sentencing was adjourned to an unspecified later date.