Man bullied at Steelite took his own life, inquest hears
STEELITE worker Stephen Hulme killed himself after being repeatedly bullied by two colleagues, an inquest heard.
And now the pottery firm has been ordered to implement an anti-bullying policy after failing to take action about the allegations.
But Staffordshire Police found the company was not culpable of offences under the Corporate Manslaughter Act because Mr Hulme did not come forward to report the abuse himself.
The 42-year-old was found hanged from his loft at his home, in Sherwin Road, Stanfields, on August 1.
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Margaret Jones, Assistant Deputy Coroner for North Staffordshire, heard how Mr Hulme had been off sick from work since February 20.
Mr Hulme's mother, Irene, of Thornley Road, Stanfields, said: "He felt he was being bullied.
"He was roaming the streets, he was unshaven and was drinking a lot.
"He started to mention to me almost everyday that he was being bullied. He kept on about it."
Andrew Shaw, of Darwin Drive, Burslem, worked alongside Mr Hulme in the company's gloss warehouse.
He said: "He told me about 14 months before his death that two colleagues were calling him names and doing drawings of him and putting them on his bench.
"I told him he had to nip it in the bud and tell our manager, but he seemed reluctant to do that because he didn't want to grass on people, so he just took it on the chin.
"But I don't think he could take it any longer and that's why he was off sick."
Fellow Steelite worker Steven Barber, of Newford Street, Tunstall, added: "The bullies encouraged each other. They were name-calling and started doing impressions of him.
"They used to throw stuff at him and purposely walk into him. He was being picked on and I told him to go and report it, but he didn't want to."
Richard Poole, finance director at Steelite, said the company did not take any action against the claims despite friends of Mr Hulme reporting the abuse.
He said: "Bullying is not acceptable in the workplace and if we are aware of bullying then we will investigate.
"We have taken disciplinary action previously, but no action was taken in regards to Mr Hulme.
"The problem was that no complaint had ever been made to the management, union representative or HR."
Mrs Jones recorded that Mr Hulme's cause of death was hanging and that he had killed himself.
She said: "There were previous bullying incidents that were being investigated by the firm.
"There was a manager on the floor and I find it difficult to believe that he was unaware of what was going on.
"There was no anti-bullying policy in place and I think the firm would benefit from having something like this in place.
"The sad fact is Mr Hulme felt he was unable to talk about it and that he kept all these matters bottled up inside."
Following the inquest Steelite said the company had a grievance and dignity at work policies in place at the time of the incident.
Anyone concerned about similar issues can call the Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline on 0808 800 2234 or consult Staffordshire Mental Health Directory http://www.stokementalhealth.info and use 'I need HELP NOW' link.
If you feel you may want to take your own life or are concerned about someone else who might, talk to the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or contact your GP.