An Audi apprentice was recently found dead in the woodland area near his home after reportedly being bullied by his colleagues. Apparently, the eighteen-year-old apprentice was locked in a cage and his clothes were set alight by his fellow workers.
The parents of apprentice George Cheese stated that when he found out that he had got the position with Audi, he was “over the moon”. However, this soon changed when he would arrive home with his clothes littered in burn holes and covered in bruises. An inquest at Reading Town Hall this week heard the shocking story that the boy had been forced and locked into a cage. Then, he was covered in flammable liquid and his clothes were set on fire.
This wasn’t the first time that George had suffered injuries whilst at work either. His mother described that in fact, one day he had returned with a limp. This occurred after four men pinned him down whilst another repeatedly punched his leg until it went dead. Nothing was done about this though. It was revealed that instead, his boss had seen this incident and responded by walking away laughing.
It wasn’t just physical injuries that George suffered either. His mother revealed that in fact, it was the verbal abuse that ‘cut much deeper.’ She described that one morning, George arrived at work to his boss claiming “oh, so you are alive after all.”
Alongside this, George’s struggling mental health was also made a joke of within his workplace. Remarks were made such as “take your happy pills George, you’re going to need them”. The coroner heard that his bosses at Audi had also described him as “useless” and told him to “hurry up and kill himself.”
Then, on the ninth of April, George’s father saw his son for the last time. Just hours after their son left the house, George’s parents heard sirens and were delivered the heartbreaking news that their son had been found dead nearby.
Blaming himself, George’s father described that he would never forgive himself ‘for missing the warning signs leading to his son’s death.’
It was revealed at the inquest, that on the night before his death, George was noticeably distressed. It was described that he had been pacing the room saying “I have to quit, I can’t go back there.”
His father, however, reassured his son that things would get better over time, and to not resign. Now though, he ‘realised how “ridiculous” this response was.’
George’s mother though revealed that she had been aware of her son’s worsening mental state. Therefore, for the past few months, she was ensuring that her son took his medication. However, in the final few days of his life, George’s mother became ill and was unable to do this.
When questioned about the abusive incidents that had occurred though, George’s line manager simply stated that this was just “banter” and “horseplay”.
He continued: “I was in the workshop when a prank was played on George and he was set on fire.”
“It did not go too far. We knew where to draw the line.”
“It was not bullying.”
It has now been ruled that the Audi garage where the young apprentice was bullied, was not responsible for his death. The corner stated that the actions of George’s colleagues were “unacceptable”. However, he argued that the teen’s death was due to many contributing factors; including his recently ended relationship and fears for his own health.
Initially, the coroner stated that he was “concerned about the apparent underestimation of issues that clearly took place.” However, as the inquest developed further, he found that this incident, “came as a wake-up call and a significant shock to the garage company.”
“Senior management at the company did bring serious action against the mentor who was involved in the fire episode with George, further involvement with Mind, and a change in emphasis in further management.”
Alongside this, he also stressed the other contributing factors leading to George’s death. One of which, was that he feared he was suffering from cancer. This was concluded after police searches found that George had been making recent searches for tumours on his iPad. Alongside this, George had also suffered from mental health issues from the ages of around 14/15.
The coroner concluded that he “understood Cheese’s parents’ desire to blame the Audi dealership”. However, he added that “steps taken by the management following his death had succeeded in improving conditions there.”
So what do you think of this incident? Let us know what you think in the comments below.