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Father describes seeing son hit by falling mirror before he died from 'devastating' injuries

Austen Harrison died in hospital after he was hit by a falling mirror Photo:

A four-year-old boy from Crawley died from "devastating" head injuries when an unstable shop mirror fell on him in Oxfordshire, an inquest heard.

Austen Harrison was playing with a heavy fitting-room mirror while his father tried on a suit at a Hugo Boss shop when it toppled over and crushed him.

He underwent an emergency operation to relieve pressure on his brain but died four days later in hospital after life-support was switched off.

An inquest into his death at Oxford Coroner's Court heard that the mirror was not fixed to the wall and that its free-standing position meant it could could easily overbalance.

Austen Harrison died in hospital four days after the incident

Austen, from Turners Hill in Crawley, was with his parents, Simon and Irina Harrison, when the incident happened at the Bicester outlet village at around 8.30pm on June 4 2013.

Mrs Harrison and her son met Mr Harrison after he finished work and had dinner at a Carluccio's restaurant before going to the Hugo Boss store.

In evidence read to the jury of seven men and two women by Darren Salter, the senior coroner for Oxfordshire, Mr Harrison said the shop was not busy when they arrived and that he tried on a number of suits and jackets while his wife and son wandered around.

As he tried on various suits Austen came in to the changing area and began looking at himself in a large mirror and playing with its large winged sections, attached to the main mirror with hinges.

Mr Harrison, a mechanical aerospace engineering consultant, said he moved the mirror's wings himself as he looked at a suit, moving them out to an angle of about 45 degrees.

The incident happened at a Hugo Boss outlet shop in Bicester

He said: "I didn't have any concerns because I assumed they would be fixed to the wall. I couldn't think of any reason why such a large mirror wouldn't be fixed to the wall."

But as he tried on another suit and walked to his wife to try on a tie, they heard an extremely loud bang, "as if something had fallen over", and someone gasp.

He said: "I instantly knew Austen was lying underneath it, as it was not lying flat on the floor."

Mr Harrison went straight over and lifted the mirror from his son, who was lying motionless.

He said: "He was lying face up with his legs straight out and his arms by his side."

Mr Harrison carried his son into the main part of the shop, where an off-duty doctor assisted, but after he was taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford he underwent emergency surgery for swelling to his brain.<

Doctors told the family Austen would not recover from the "irreversible" brain damage. Life support was switched off and he died at 5.45am on June 8.

In his statement, Mr Harrison told the inquest that while his son was in hospital he went back to the shop and told managers he was in a critical condition.

Mr Harrison said he asked the manager if he had viewed the CCTV footage, and was told it showed Austen pulling the mirror off the wall.