Page last updated at 22:16 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 23:16 UK

Colleagues jailed for race abuse

McDermott, Skett and Melaney
McDermott, Skett and Melaney also set fire to Mr Mehmood's trousers

Three men have been jailed for three years for a campaign of racial harassment against a Muslim colleague.

Amjid Mehmood was tied to railings and force-fed bacon while a rucksack with protruding wires was put on his locker, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

Fellow road maintenance workers Lee McDermott, of Rowley Regis, and Sean Melaney and Phillip Skett, both from Birmingham, admitted racial harassment.

The nine-month campaign of abuse came to light when Mr Mehmood told police.

McDermott, 31, from Blue Stone Walk, Sean Melaney, 28, of Steatham Grove, Kingstanding, and Skett, 39, of College Road, Erdington, were each jailed for three years.

It was... an appalling example of racial harassment and one that will not be tolerated in a civilised society
Judge John Warner

The men, who worked for road maintenance company Amey Mouchel at a depot in Bescot, Walsall, were accused of nine separate incidents of racial harassment from autumn 2005 to summer 2006, the court heard.

The firm said it takes matters like this "very seriously", but Mr Mehmood did not report the incidents until after he left the company.

Other incidents included the group removing Mr Mehmood's trousers and exposing him to passing motorists while they worked on the M6 motorway in Cannock, Staffordshire, the court heard.

His trousers had also been set on fire while he was wearing them, the court was told.

While riots raged between Asians and Afro-Caribbeans in the Lozells area of Birmingham in 2005, Mr Mehmood was driven by the group to an area with a large Afro-Caribbean population and abandoned.

The court heard they then racially abused him and told him the local residents "were coming to get him".

'Deliberate bullying'

Mr Mehmood eventually reported the incidents to his employer and police.

But on his last day of work, he was tied to railings, hosed down with cold water and force-fed bacon, which he cannot eat as part of his religious beliefs. The incident was filmed on a mobile phone.

The court was told the harassment left him very depressed, suicidal and unable to sleep.

Sentencing the men, Judge John Warner said that "horseplay in the workplace is one thing but, this was a catalogue of deliberate bullying".

It was an "appalling example of racial harassment and one that will not be tolerated in a civilised society", he added.

Speaking after the case, the District Crown Prosecutor for the Black Country, Colin Molloy, urged anyone who was subjected to workplace harassment to report it to police.

'Internal investigation'

"It was a very prolonged and persistent attack, where the victim was picked upon simply because of his race," he said.

The authorities would "tenaciously and robustly" prosecute those responsible for criminal offences committed against colleagues, he added.

In a statement, Amey Mouchel, said it "does not tolerate unlawful discrimination against any employee on the basis of their race".

"The employee in question did not report the event until after he left the company," the firm said.

"However, as soon as we became aware of the allegations we carried out our own internal investigation and disciplinary action was taken resulting in the three individuals leaving the company."

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