Teenage Audi mechanic commits suicide after bullying by colleagues

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A teenage apprentice mechanic at an Audi garage allegedly killed himself after being bullied by his colleagues for months, an inquest has heard.

George Cheese, 18, was “over the moon” when he got the job at the dealership. However, he soon started returning from work covered in bruises and holes burned into his clothes. On one occasion, the 18-year-old was locked in a cage by his colleagues and his clothes were set on fire.

Cheese, who committed suicide in April 2016, did so only six months after he started working for Audi.

Speaking to the inquest, his father, Keith Cheese said he would never forgive himself for missing the warning signs. He further stated George had approached him, trying to start a conversation on the day he killed himself but Keith had been preoccupied with a golf tournament on TV.

A day before, George had been pacing around the house repeatedly saying, “I have to quit, I can’t go back there.” His father, however, told him not to resign saying things would get better.

Speaking to the inquest, George’s mother, Purdy Cheese said she had been aware of the decline in George’s mental health. She made sure he took his anti-depressants regularly, until the final few days of his life when she had fallen ill.

George had attempted to overdose on his medication on two occasions. However, his mother said she did not believe her son wanted to die on those occasions. Instead, she saw them as excuses to miss work without having to quit his job.

She said his mental illness was known around his workplace and he received comments like, “‘take your happy pills George, you’re going to need them.”

George was also going through a rough patch with this girlfriend of two years, which further added to the stress, his mother claimed.

George had tried to complain to his boss about the abuse but he had replied with, “Those naughty boys, I have told them about this.”

Peter Bedford, the coroner, said no action was taken against colleagues after George had reported the abuse.

George’s line manager, Simon Wright, admitted to playing pranks on him but said, “It did not go too far. We knew where to draw the line. It was not bullying.” Wright was also present in the workshop when George was set on fire.

Manager of the dealership, Terry Kindeleit had also witnessed George being locked in a cage and set on fire. After his death, Kindeleit said they were working hard to make sure future apprentices did not have a similar experience at the garage. This includes team building exercises and weekly appraisal forms about their superiors.

The inquest continues.

Courtesy: Telegraph