Fines for pair who bullied teenager ‘in most appalling way’
Two men have been fined and handed unpaid work orders for a series of workplace bullying attacks against a teenage apprentice, including drawing a religious symbol onto his body with indelible ink, and tying him to a makeshift cross in a ‘mock crucifixion’.
Manager Andrew Addison, 31, was found guilty of assaulting the teenager, while his colleague Joseph Richard Rose, 21, was found guilty of harassment, in a trial heard at York Crown Court.
During the course of his apprenticeship with shopfitting firm Direct Interior Solutions, the 17-year old was sprayed with lit aerosol cans and tied to chairs. He told the court he felt humiliated and believed his Catholic upbringing and churchgoing lifestyle was the reason for the attacks.
The court cleared the defendants, and two other workmates, of religiously aggravated assault – but Addison and Rose were found guilty on separate charges, despite claiming that the actions were ‘harmless banter.’
At the sentencing, presiding judge Paul Batty said: ‘As manager in charge of both Rose and the apprentice, Addison was in a position of responsibility and was therefore more culpable, while the young victim was particularly vulnerable.’
Addison was sentenced to 140 hours of unpaid work and will pay £1,000 in compensation to the victim, while Rose was sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £750. Both were also given £500 court fines.
Addressing Rose at York Crown Court, Judge Batty said: ‘On two occasions when you had been drinking you bullied this young apprentice in a most appalling way. His crime seemed to be that he did not want to be ‘one of the lads’. He didn’t go out drinking with you, he was quiet and reserved and seen as an easy target.’
The trial comes at a time when both workplace disputes and reports of workplace violence are reportedly on the rise. Research from Metlife Employee Benefits in April found 47 per cent of HR departments reported an increase in workplace disputes over the last two years, with one in seven HR professionals feeling physically threatened at work. In a separate study, the TUC said that one in eight people have experienced violence at work, particularly in the medical, education, and hospitality and leisure sectors.
Speaking when the research was released, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Workplace violence is far too common in the UK. These disturbing findings show that millions of people are likely to experience violence and intimidation at some point in their working life – with A&E staff, nurses, teachers, hotel receptionists and shop workers particularly at risk.”
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