Berkshire

Audi apprentice killed himself after workplace 'banter'

George Cheese Image copyright Family handout
Image caption The inquest heard Mr Cheese had secured his "dream job" at Audi

An Audi apprentice mechanic killed himself after being locked in a cage and burned in garage "banter", an inquest heard.

George Cheese, 18, had been employed at the German company's Reading garage for six months when he was found hanged on 9 April 2015.

The "horseplay", which also included being hosed down and put in a car boot, contributed to his depression, said Coroner Peter Bedford.

He recorded a narrative verdict.

Mr Bedford said Mr Cheese had also been affected by a relationship breakdown and medical discharge from the Army.

Reading Coroner's Court heard on Thursday that his body was found in woodland near his home in Woodley, Berkshire.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The 18-year-old had been employed at the German company's Reading garage for six months when he was found hanged

He had been prescribed medication for depression, which he had not been taking, "brought on by a series of life events", Mr Bedford said.

He also wrongly believed he had a serious illness and had researched cancer symptoms online.

The inquest heard that after leaving the Army due to fracturing both of his legs in 2014, Mr Cheese was happy at securing his "dream job" at Audi.

However, his parents Keith and Purdy Cheese told the inquest their son had come home with minor burns after his trousers were doused with flammable brake fluid and ignited.

He had also said he was placed in a bin, locked in a cage, put in a car boot, hosed down with water and given "dead legs" by colleagues during separate incidents.

'Banter'

His manager Terry Kindeleit said the "physical incidents", some of which he described as "horseplay", stopped after he warned staff.

The court heard that Mr Cheese had referred to the behaviour as "banter" that "sometimes goes too far".

Mr Cheese's family asked for neglect from Audi to form part of the coroner's conclusion but Mr Bedford said the legal requirement for this had not been met.

He said, however, that Mr Cheese's death had been a "wake-up call" for Audi and was in "no doubt" that action had been taken to prevent the same thing happening again.

Thames Valley Police said the incidents at Audi had been investigated and there was insufficient evidence for prosecution.

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