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Bullies 'Crucify' Catholic Co-Worker For 'Prank'

Four grown men -- including a 37-year-old and a 30-year-old -- are accused of bullying a co-worker for months, giving him wedgies, scribbling phalluses on his face, and mock "crucifying" him with pieces of wood and duct tape.

The quartet works for Direct Interior Solutions, a shopfitting company in the U.K. The bullying started when the 19-year-old joined their traveling team, which visited stores to design interior spaces, according to the BBC.

The victim began his apprenticeship in July of 2014, says the Telegraph, and was mocked by his co-workers for his Catholic faith.

Andrew Addison, 30, Joseph Rose, 21, Christopher Jackson, 22, and Alex Puchir, 37, are each accused of a slew of charges, including religiously aggravated assault by beating and putting a person in fear of violence by harassment. The charges are equivalent to felonies in the U.S. court system.

"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," prosecutor Austin Newman told York Crown Court.

Newman told the court about one incident in which the victim went to sleep early and was woken by Rose, "who was above him with a deodorant can in one hand and a cigarette lighter in another," according to the Telegraph.

Rose "discharged the spray that narrowly missed [the teenager's] head because he had the presence of mind to pull the [comforter] over his head," Newman said. "Afterwards Joseph Rose was seen stamping out the smoke from the [comforter]."

Addison filmed the incident on his mobile phone, the prosecutor said.

A month later, after returning from a bar where they had drinks, the foursome decided to pull another "prank" on the victim. Rose used a permanent marker to draw "a number of symbols, both religious and phallic, over [the teenager's] face," Newman said.

In other incidents, they are accused of duct-taping the victim to a chair, giving him a wedgie and, in January of 2015, "crucifying" the victim while the team was working at a bank, prosecutors allege.

In that incident, Hull, Addison, Jackson and Puchir fashioned a crude cross out of two pieces of wood, then duct-taped the teenager to the "cross," Newman said.

The four men suspended the cross a meter above the ground "in a way that resembled a crucifixion," Newman told the court.

After the victim complained to police in May of 2015, Addison refused to comment, but the other three minimized the alleged abuse by describing it as part of workplace "banter" and pranks. The victim told cops he held out for the better part of a year because he didn't want to lose his job, the BBC reported, and because he was scared of his co-workers.

The trial is ongoing. Media reports typically do not name the victims of crimes unless the victims themselves speak out publicly.

Sources: The Telegraph, BBC / Photo credit: BBC

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