'Racist Met police officer compared black men to chimpanzees and said they lived in mud huts'
PC Kevin Hughes allegedly directed racist comments at members of the public while on patrol
Fellow PC David Hair 'asked black colleague if she was going home to cook bananas'Officers were suspended in April following complaints from other PCs
23:56 GMT, 26 November 2012
A police officer told colleagues ‘all black people look like monkeys’, a court heard yesterday.
PC Kevin Hughes, 42, is accused of making the racist comment as he pointed to three black men leaning against a wall. When challenged, he allegedly replied ‘but it’s true’ before arguing that the men were ‘closely related to chimpanzees and more closely related to Neanderthals’.
His comments were alleged to have been made while he was on patrol in Newham, one of London’s most ethnically diverse areas.
PC David Hair (left) and PC Kevin Hughes (right) denied their comments – overheard by a colleague – were racist
And his colleague David Hair asked a
black officer if she was staying to do overtime or ‘going home to cook
bananas', it is alleged.
Kate Wilkinson, prosecutor, told
Westminster Magistrates Court that PC Hughes was on patrol with PC
Costas Dakoutros when he made the comments.
Hair, of Epping, Essex, and Hughes, who met at police training school, both deny making any racist comments.
Hughes allegedly made the racist remarks while in a patrol car in Green Street with three colleagues on February 22 after seeing three black men standing on the pavement, the prosecutor said.
He allegedly turned to his colleague, PC Costas Dakoutros, who was in the back of the car with him, and said: 'Look at them, they look like f****** monkeys.'
'PC Dakoutros looked shocked and said ‘You can't say that',' Ms Wilkinson said.
But Hughes allegedly replied: 'No, but it's true.'
'He began to deliberate that they [black people] were closely related to chimpanzees and then said they were more closely related to Neanderthals,' according to the prosecutor.
Giving evidence, PC Dakoutros, who made an immediate note of the incident, said it has had a profound impact on his wellbeing.
He said: 'It was horrible. I'd heard the comment and it was always playing on my mind.
'It affected me at the time. I felt I was given something that I didn't know how to deal with. I felt something should be done but I didn't know exactly what to do. I just wanted the matter taken out of my hands.'
Charges: The two officers appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court where they denied making racist comments
He added: 'I stopped sleeping. I put on a bit of weight. I was generally moody. I retreated into myself a lot.
'I was kind of starting to doubt the organisation that I worked for.'
PC Dakoutros described a culture of racist banter between Hughes and Hair, who were good friends.
told the court the pair would refer to each other as 'auntie and
uncle'- using imitation Asian accents in the style of the TV show
Goodness Gracious Me, starring Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar.
also described an incident in which the pair were on an operation with
an Asian female Special Constable and they decided not to use the term
in case she made an official complaint against them.
He said: 'K [Hughes] said we can't use 'auntie' as she might complain. D [Hair] agreed.
'It backed up my initial thoughts that these two officers were aware that someone might complain if they heard it being used.'
Another colleague who was in the car said he heard Hughes say: 'Black people hadn't evolved and lived in mud huts in Africa', according to Ms Wilkinson.
But under questioning the officer denied being racist and said he was commenting on the way a man walked.
Ms Wilkinson said: 'He said he didn't recall seeing three black males but said he saw someone with a certain gait who walked like a monkey and he had said to PC Dakoutros something about a monkey.'
'I didn't know if you were going to go into a little rant and say you were going to go home and cook bananas.'
– Alleged words of PC Hair to black colleague
Hair is alleged to have made racist comments to his black colleague, PC Julia Dacres, on March 13.
PC Dacres lived in south London and so would not regularly work overtime as she found it difficult to travel home late at night, Ms Wilkinson told the court.
While on patrol, Hair asked PC Dacres if she was going to do any overtime, to which she sarcastically laughed and said she would.
Hair then allegedly said: 'I didn't know if you were going to go into a little rant and say you were going to go home and cook bananas.'
Ms Wilkinson said PC Dacres was 'stunned' by this comment and replied: 'That is a weird concoction. Is that what you had for dinner'
PC Dakoutros said when he heard the comment, he initially thought it was an ongoing joke', but 'when I spoke to PC Dacres, about it, it had obviously upset her'.
Hughes was present in the police van at the time.
'PC Hughes admitted hearing the comment and said it was stupid,' Ms Wilkinson said.
Hair admitted making the comment but said it was not racist because he 'could have named any food', according to Ms Wilkinson.
She added: 'He does not deny the statement but asserts it was made with no racial connotation.'
The prosecutor also said the pair, who worked in the North East Victim Offender Location Time team (Volt), regularly mocked Asian culture while working, which distressed some colleagues.
Hughes and Hair would call each other 'aunty' and 'uncle', common terms in Asian culture for elders, using mock accents 'such as those heard on television comedy series', Ms Wilkinson said.
Senior staff never challenged the pair for this, she said.
The decision to charge the officers came after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following a referral of the complaints in April.
The Met said both officers were suspended from duty on 5 April.
The case continues.