Three-year sentence follows 10-month campaign of “dangerous” harassment at motorway maintenance depot

Three men who persecuted a Muslim workmate at an Amey Mouchel roadworks depot in what a judge described as a “deliberate” and “dangerous” fashion have each been jailed for three years.

Phillip Skett, 38, Sean Melaney, 28, and Lee McDermott, 31, conducted a 10-month campaign of harassment against Amjid Mehmood while all four were working at Amey Mouchel's motorway maintenance depot in Bescot, Walsall. They company said it was not made aware of the incidents at the time.

The bucket of a mini digger was swung at the victim, knocking off his helmet, an item made to look like a bomb was placed in his locker, and his trousers were set on fire.

The group also tied their victim naked to railings, hosed him down with cold water, and tried to force him to eat bacon. Some of the bullying was recorded on a mobile phone camera.

During a period of rioting between Asians and Afro-Caribbeans in Birmingham in 2005, the group also drove their victim to an area with a large Afro-Caribbean population, racially abused and then abandoned him.

The defendants pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to racially aggravated harassment covering nine incidents between August 2005 and July 2006.

Jonathan Challinor, defending Melaney, said that the group were constantly joking and playing practical jokes on each other. They tried to be more and more outlandish and “it spiralled out of control”.

Sentencing the men at Wolverhampton crown court, Judge John Warner said that what had started out as horseplay had become a “campaign of deliberate bullying”, telling them: “You humiliated him and the things you did to him were painful, hurtful, dangerous and done with considerable thought.”

In a statement, Amey Mouchel said that the victim did not report the incidents until after leaving its employment, and that as soon as it became aware of the allegations it initiated an internal investigation and disciplinary action that resulted in the three men leaving the company.

The firm emphasised that it places a high value on the diversity of its workforce and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.