Police officer said black people looked like monkeys, court told
PCs Kevin Hughes and David Hair on trial for allegedly making racist comments to colleagues
A police officer made racist remarks to colleagues, saying black people “look like monkeys” and “lived in mud huts”, a court has heard.
PC Kevin Hughes, 36, is on trial with a fellow officer, PC David Hair, 42, who allegedly suggested a colleague might be leaving work because she was going home to “cook bananas”.
Both Hughes and Hair deny one count each of using threatening words or behaviour to cause alarm and distress, and one count each of racially aggravated harassment.
Hughes, of Brentwood, Essex, is accused of making the comments while on patrol in Newham, east London, the prosecutor, Kate Wilkinson, told Westminster magistrates court.
The two officers on trial met at police training school. Hughes made the alleged racist remarks while in a patrol car in Green Street with three colleagues on 22 February 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 fucking monkeys.”
“PC Dakoutros looked shocked and said ‘You can’t say that,'” Wilkinson said.
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,” the prosecutor told the court.
Dakoutros also alleged that Hughes said: “Don’t all black people look like monkeys?”
Another colleague who was in the car said he heard Hughes say: “Black people hadn’t evolved and lived in mud huts in Africa,” the prosecutor told the court.
But, under questioning, the officer denied being racist and said he was commenting on the way a man walked.
Hair is alleged to have made racist comments to a fellow officer, PC Julia Dacres, on 13 March.
Dacres lived in south London and usually did not work overtime as she found it difficult to travel home late at night, Wilkinson told the court.
While on patrol, Hair asked Dacres if she was going to work 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.”
Wilkinson said that Dacres was “stunned” by this comment and replied: “That is a weird concoction. Is that what you had for dinner?” Hughes was present in the police van at the time.
“PC Hughes admitted hearing the comment and said it was stupid,” Wilkinson said.
Hair admitted making the comment but said it was not racist because he “could have named any food”, according to Wilkinson.
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 communities for elders, using mock accents “such as those heard on television comedy series”, Wilkinson said.
Senior staff never challenged the pair for this, she said.
The hearing continues.