18 Aug 2014

Bullying drove man to take life - wife

7:35 pm on 18 August 2014

The wife of a man who took his own life has told a coroner his death was caused by bullying by the Hamilton City Council.

Raymond Mayes, who was 55, died in June last year.

Hamilton.

Hamilton. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The council denies the allegation and told the Hamilton Coroners Court there was no evidence Dr Mayes was bullied.

Under a restructuring, the Waikato Museum had to shed positions and make savings of $140,000, and an operational budget cut of $114,000.

Dr Mayes job as a science educator was secure but it left him as the only educator at the museum.

His wife, Julie Mayes, told the coroner restructuring at the museum in the past few years put staff under intolerable pressure.

She said her husband was not given any support, that he had told her the environment at work was becoming more toxic as time went by, and the museum management was expecting more and more from its remaining staff.

"The museum started hemorrhaging staff, staff started to leave because the environment was becoming more toxic as time went by. Staff left faster than they could be replaced," she said.

"Ray told me that the new director made a comment in a staff meeting the education department (of the museum) wasn't bring in the numbers. This would have really affected Ray but bringing in more numbers under the pressure and circumstances was impossible and because of the environment and restructure he had no way of changing things."

Wife has no doubt

Mrs Mayes said while her husband never mentioned being bullied, she was in no doubt he was and that the pressure on her husband drove him to take his own life.

"I looked up the word bullying and it includes, harassing, intimidating, frustrating, overwhelming, crushing, upsetting, destroying, distressing, demanding , worrying, mistrusting, all apply to the way the Hamilton City Council dealt with my husband."

A former colleague of Dr Mayes, Moana Davey backed up the claim of staff intimidation.

"I felt the director of the museum was unreasonable and treated staff with disdain. She installed a culture of fear which left staff with a deep sense of anxiety," she said.

Dr Mayes' doctor, Stewart Wells, told the court he believed his patient was suffering from depression.

Through lawyer Mark Hammond, the Hamilton City Council denied it was responsible for the death and said it did not accept Dr Mayes was exposed to excessive stress or an increased workload.

The council absolutely denied any bullying took place, and there was no evidence to suggest it did, Mr Hammond said.

The Waikato Museum director will give evidence at the inquest tomorrow..