THE owners of stationery store WH Smith could face a massive fine after a customer suffered serious injury after falling through an open trapdoor in its Taunton store.

The 64-year-old needed hospital treatment for life-changing leg injuries after falling three metres into the basement of the outlet in Fore Street.

A member of staff received bruising in the incident.

WH Smith (Retail Holdings) Limited is due to appear at Taunton Crown Court on Wednesday, (October 31) and can expect to be fined for health and safety failures.

An investigation by Taunton Deane Borough Council found inadequacies in the system of work, exposing both staff members and customers to danger.

There had also been a previous environmental health officer intervention regarding the WH Smith store in Tenby, Wales, which had a similar basement giving rise to similar dangers.

Another WH Smith store at Southwold, Suffolk, had similarly inadequately controlled basement storage access issues.

A TDBC spokeswoman said: "The accident at Taunton was forseeable and preventable."