THREE Melbourne men implicated in the physical and emotional bullying of a teenage waitress - who later committed suicide - have pleaded guilty to workplace charges.
An inquest into the death of Brodie Rae Constance Panlock, 19, heard she was treated in an ''extremely aggressive and intimidating'' manner at the popular Cafe Vamp in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn.
On the evidence of a former workmate, a coroner described manager Nicholas Smallwood and Rhys MacAlpine as ''relentless in their efforts to demean her'', which included covering her with chocolate and dismissing her as ''worthless''.
Nicola Wood told the inquest Ms Panlock was in an intimate relationship with Smallwood but believed she ''put up'' with his and others' behaviour because she sought ''approval and acceptance''.
A lawyer for Marc Luis Da Cruz, the owner of the cafe, yesterday expressed in court how ''terrible'' he felt.
With Ms Panlock's parents present, Joel Zyngier told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that Da Cruz, 43, was ''gutted by what they have been through and are still going through''.
Mr Zyngier said Da Cruz, of Upwey, will quit the hospitality industry after 20 years and leave Victoria when the case ends.
He and his company MAP Foundation Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to two charges issued by WorkSafe Victoria investigators that included failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment. Smallwood, 26, of East Melbourne, and chef Gabriel Toomey, 23, of Melbourne, pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of persons, with which MacAlpine, 28, of Hawthorn, is also charged. MacAlpine had his charge adjourned.
Only Da Cruz remains connected to the cafe.
Coroner Peter White found in May last year that Ms Panlock was ''emotionally vulnerable'' after joining the cafe in early 2005 because of her low self-esteem, age and inexperience.
Mr White said she became ''infatuated'' with Smallwood and they had an intermittent intimate relationship for 15 months until her death.
In this period, the relationship became unhealthy as Smallwood, MacAlpine and others ''systematically bullied her, both physically and emotionally,'' Mr White found.
He said he was satisfied that ''this almost daily routine of inappropriate pressure at work'' culminated in her jumping from a car park building on September 20, 2006.
He said it was his view on the evidence that on that night Ms Panlock felt what she considered an ''unbearable level of humiliation''.
The case was adjourned until February 5.