Four men have gone on trial in York accused of religiously aggravated attacks on a teenage work colleague - including tying him to a cross - which they later dismissed as “banter”.
Andrew Addison, 30, Joseph Rose, 21, Christopher Jackson, 22, and Alex Puchir, 37. allegedly carried out a sustained campaign of bullying against the teenage boy between July 2014 and April 2015.
They are said to have allegedly mocked his Christian faith by tying him to a “crucifix” and having crosses daubed over his face and body.
In other incidents, the victim, now 18, was allegedly tied to a chair with duck tape and had a dummy forced into his mouth before being paraded out into the street and also was given a “wedgie” by Addision which caused him cuts and bruises to his backside.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had begun an apprenticeship with Direct Interior Solutions, a shopfitting firm managed by Addison in July 2014.
As part of working for the firm, the youngster was required to travel across Yorkshire, the South East and London to work on shop refittings with a team that included Addison, Rose, Jackson and Puchir.
Austin Newman, prosecuting, told York Crown Court: “These counts cover what the prosecution contend was sustained bullying of a young man in the work place.
“From an early stage with this team he was subjected to acts of bullying that went beyond anything that could be described as banter or hi-jinx in the workplace.
“The first incident happened when they were working in London.
“On one night during the week the group would tend to go out socialising and drinking - that night was usually Thursday night.
“On this occasion [the teenager] did not accompany his colleagues and he went to bed.
“He was woken by Rose who was above him with a deodorant can in one hand and a cigarette lighter in another.
“He discharged the spray that narrowly missed [the teenager’s] head because he had the presence of mind to pull the duvet over his head.
“Afterwards Joseph Rose was seen stamping out the smoke from the duvet.”
Mr Newman said while Rose was attacking the teenager with the lighter and deodorant Addison was sat in the room taking pictures on his mobile phone.
The prosecutor said the second incident took place a month later in August 2014, when the team was in Basildon, Essex.
The teenager had again remained in bed while the rest had gone out for drinks.
Mr Newman said: “They returned to their digs where [the teenager] was asleep.
“Whilst he was asleep Joseph Rose took a permanent marker and drew a number of symbols, both religious and phallic, over [the teenager’s] face.
“These markings took a few days to removing and after intense scrubbing he was left with soreness of the skin and even a rash.”
Mr Newman said in November 2014, the victim had been helping the company refit a bank in York, when Addision, who was being helped by another man, Bruce Potter, allegedly took hold of the teen and tied him to a chair.
Mr Newman said: “They tied his arms and used duck tape and cable ties to secure him.
“In his mouth they put a child’s dummy. They took him outside the premises before taking him back inside and locking him in a room on his own.
Describing the final time the teenager was allegedly attacked by him colleagues, Mr Newman said: “In January 2015 while the team was undertaking another bank refit in Hull, Addison, Jackson and Puchir forced the complainant onto a cross fashioned out of two lengths of wood and put him onto a square of plasterboard.
“[The youngster] was tied down to the plasterboard by duck tape. He was suspended a metre above the ground in a way that resembled a crucifixion.”
The prosecutor added: “The crown say the acts of drawing on [the teen] were assaults and these assaults were aggravated religiously.
“The crown say the crosses were put on there as a reference to his religious observance.”
Mr Newman said the victim made a complaint to police in May 2015.
When interviewed by police Addison made no comment, while Jackson, Rose and Puchir admitted involvement in the incidents but said they were workplace banter or pranks.
Addison, from Selby, denies one count of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment, and two counts of racially aggravated assault by beating.
Rose, of Bubwith, East Yorkshire, Jackson of Barlby, North Yorkshire, and Puchir, from Edinburgh, deny one count of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment, and one count of racially aggravated assault by beating.
The trial continues.