News State NSW News Inquest into death of bullied apprentice

Inquest into death of bullied apprentice

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A teenage apprentice was set alight, feared being raped and had a chart of his mistakes publicly displayed in his workplace, an inquest into his death has heard.

Alec Meikle had begun work an apprentice engineer at Downer EDI in Bathurst, southwest of Sydney, in January 2008.

His father Richard Meikle said his 17-year-old son was verbally abused from day three.

Mr Meikle said he was called “a useless f***ing c***” every day by his supervisor Colin Wiggins and other tradesmen.

“Colin Wiggins was the instigator and the main culprit from day three,” Richard Meikle told the inquest at Glebe Coroners Court on Monday.

“He never had a good day after day two, something happened every day, that’s what he told me.”

His colleagues also kept a chart of his mistakes at the workplace and he was concerned that once the chart had been filled he would be “anally abused” by his colleagues, the inquest heard.

Another time when colleagues were critiquing his work, they sprayed his arm with flammable liquid, which set his arm on fire for several seconds.

Alec also suspected his colleagues were sabotaging his work.

Mr Meikle said Alec, who was a happy and helpful young man, became abusive towards his family, used foul language at home and became withdrawn during his time as an apprentice.

“He was very, very different,” he said.

After taking stress leave he quit his job and moved to New Zealand in September 2008.

He had sought counselling and was on anti-depressants but had told counsellors about his suicidal thoughts, the inquest heard.

The 17-year-old hanged himself at his aunt’s house in Titirangi in New Zealand on October 13, 2008.

An internal investigation by Downer EDI found he was given little supervision at work, was doing work beyond his capacity and that the chart created for him was “inappropriate, offensive and derogatory”.

The inquest before deputy state coroner Paul MacMahon, continues.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.