Catholic teenager subjected to 'sustained course of victimisation and bullying'
A Catholic teenager was tied to a wooden cross and hung from a wall in a "sustained course of victimisation and bullying" by work colleagues, a court has heard.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also had religious and phallic symbols drawn on his face and body with permanent marker, York Crown Court was told.
Four men have gone on trial accused of religiously aggravated assault against the teenager, who was aged between 17 and 18 at the time.
Austin Newman, opening the case for the prosecution, told the jury of five men and seven women the boy obtained an apprenticeship at a shopfitting company in Selby, North Yorkshire, in July 2014.
During his apprenticeship, he worked on jobs in London, the South East and Yorkshire with the four defendants: company manager Andrew Addison, Joseph Rose, Christopher Jackson and Alex Puchir.
Mr Newman said: "These defendants are charged variously on counts of religiously aggravated assault by beating and putting a person in fear of violence by harassment.
"These counts are designed to cover what the prosecution contends was a sustained course of victimisation and bullying of a young man in the work place."
He added: "He was subjected to acts of bullying, which the Crown say went beyond anything that could reasonably be described as banter or high jinx in the workplace."
Mr Newman said the boy was a practising Roman Catholic and told the jury the defendants were motivated by hostility based on his religious observance.
Addison, 30, Jackson, 22, and Puchir, 37, are accused of tying the boy to a wooden cross and hanging him from a wall "in a way which resembled a crucifixion", Mr Newman said.
The prosecutor said the three men "tied" the teenager on to a cross, which had been fashioned from two lengths of wood and attached to a piece of plasterboard, with duct tape before leaving him suspended about a metre above the ground for around 10 minutes.
On another occasion, Rose, 21, is accused of using a permanent marker to draw crosses and penises across a large proportion of the boy's body and face while he was asleep.
Mr Newman said: "The crown say that the crosses in particular were an indication of the hostility towards (the boy) based on his religious observance."
The barrister said it took a number of days to remove the symbols and the boy was left with sore skin due to having to scrub at the marks.
Rose is also accused of spraying deodorant towards the boy's head and lighting it while he was asleep in bed, the court heard.
Mr Newman told the jury the teenager only avoided serious injury by pulling a duvet cover over his head as Rose lit the deodorant, causing a "ball of flame that narrowly missed (the boy's) head".
The prosecutor said Addison took photographs of the incident on his mobile phone.
Addison is also accused of tying the teenager to a chair with duct tape and cable ties and leaving him locked in a room by himself and giving the boy a "wedgie" by pulling his underpants up so forcibly he was lifted off his feet and suffered cuts and bruises to his buttocks, the court heard.
Mr Newman said Addison remained silent when interviewed by police after his arrest in May 2015.
The other three defendants accepted their involvement in the incidents but claimed they were part of general workplace "banter", the jury heard.
Addison, of Selby, and Rose, of Bubwith, East Yorkshire, both deny putting a person in fear of violence by harassment and religiously aggravated assault by beating.
Addison also denies a charge of assault by beating. Jackson, of Barlby, North Yorkshire, and Puchir, of Edinburgh, Scotland, both deny religiously aggravated assault by beating.
The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.