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PC compared black man to monkey because of his ‘elongated arms’, court hears

15:30 27 November 2012

File picture: PA Wire

File picture: PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A police officer has admitted comparing a black man to a monkey but told a court that he was only pointing him out during a discussion on evolution.

PC Kevin Hughes, 36, said he made the comments because he saw a black man with “elongated arms” and a “gait” like a monkey while out on patrol with three colleagues in Newham, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

The officer, of Brentwood, Essex, said it was “upsetting” that anyone would think he was racist.

The man was black but Hughes said he only had a “fleeting glance” at him. But he admitted saying he used the word “chimpanzee” to describe him.

He told the court of the incident on February 22: “I said to Pc Costas Dakoutros - ‘You see that man there? He’s walking like a monkey’.

“Pc Dakoutros said ‘Are you saying that because he’s black?’.

“I just said ‘it has got nothing to do with him being black’.

“I noticed him because he had elongated arms, his gait. That is why I picked him out because of the way he was walking. It was a fleeting look.”

Hughes acknowledged the use of the word “chimpanzee” but said he did not know what Neanderthals meant.

Asked if he was restricting his comparison to “black people”, Hughes said: “It is upsetting for someone to say that about you. It is just ridiculous.”

He said he had “always chosen to work in boroughs that are diverse” and that as a personal trainer he worked with people who were “black, white, Chinese”.

Hughes’s colleague, Pc David Hair, 42, is also standing trial for allegedly telling a female black colleague he thought she was going to “rant” about overtime and not do any because she was “going home to cook bananas”.

Hair, of Epping, Essex, is alleged to have made the racist comments to his colleague Pc Julia Dacres on March 13.

After the incident, Hughes allegedly sent a text to Hair, saying “challenge”, an informal way of airing a grievance within their police unit.

After acknowledging the message he sent to Hair, Hughes said in his police interview that “it instantly triggered (the reaction) because you are making a racist connotation”, according to prosecutor Kate Wilkinson.

She then asked Hughes: “And monkeys and black people doesn’t?”

Hughes replied: “It does.”

Ms Wilkinson went on: “Had you used the phrase, you fully accept that those words are abusive or insulting?”

Hughes said: “Yes.”

The prosecutor said: “’Look at them, they look like monkeys’, that is abusive or insulting?”

Hughes replied: “Yes.”

Hughes said he did not think Hair knew about the racial connotations in the “banana” comment.

Hair and Hughes both deny one count each of using threatening words or behaviour to cause alarm and distress and one count each of racially aggravated harassment.

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