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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 18:11 GMT
KFC worker 'died after bullying'
Hannah Kirkham - picture courtesy of MEN Syndication
Hannah Kirkham suffered from severe depression
A teenage girl died of a drug overdose following a campaign of "severe bullying" by her colleagues at Kentucky Fried Chicken, an inquest has heard.

The hearing was told Hannah Kirkham, 18, from Baguley, Manchester, was attacked and humiliated.

After she left her job she suffered hallucinations and could not even watch KFC adverts on television.

Her mother Marie found her collapsed on the bedroom floor on 17 December 2003. She died in hospital nine days later.

Rochdale coroner Simon Nelson, sitting at Oldham Magistrates' Court, was told Hannah was stabbed in the arm with corn sticks by her colleagues.

Workers also sprayed deodorant on her uniform, held a cigarette lighter against her and drew on her face and body with a marker pen.

Abusive names

During shifts at the Northenden branch of the fast food outlet, her fellow employees called her a "fat, spotty bitch" and one of the bullies said: "You dirty, ugly slag - who would want to rape you?"

The inquest heard after she left the job she began to self-harm.

When she plucked up the courage to tell her employers about the abuse, after she had left, they told her to try to sort it out for herself and, if that failed, to put the grievances in writing.

Mrs Kirkham told the inquest: "She was a beautiful, talented and caring young lady, who shone in lots of areas, particularly arts and dance."

Insp Mark Wildigg, of Greater Manchester Police, said an investigation into the events leading up to Hannah's death had not found enough evidence to bring charges.

Fund studies

Dr Patrick Mbaya told the inquest he had diagnosed the teenager with severe depression but had not found any family history of the illness.

"The stressful events could have led to her depression," he added.

Hannah started a part-time job at KFC to help fund her way through college in Stockport.

She left the job in March 2002, but returned to the branch later that year to fund her studies.

In a statement, KFC said Hannah's death was a "tragedy" and it had since set up a confidential employee hotline.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday.

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