A Wetherspoons punter who ordered a banana to a black customer’s table using the pub’s mobile app has been convicted of a racist hate crime and made to pay £1,200.
Louie Kincella, 20, said he anonymously sent the fruit to 25-year-old Mark D’arcy-Smith ‘for a joke’ during his visit to The Richmal Crompton pub in Bromley, south east London.
But Mr D’arcy-Smith was left humiliated when a waiter carried the single 30p banana to him on a plate.
Bananas have been weaponised by racists who in recent years have lobbed them at black footballers while chanting monkey noises.
Following a ‘painstaking’ investigation to identify and track down the culprit, Kincella was arrested at his home and convicted of a racially aggravated offence.
Media consultant Mr D’arcy-Smith has been left shaken by the degrading episode on the night of November 8 last year – and said the first time he passed the pub afterwards he spontaneously started trembling.
Louie Kincella, 20, (left) said he sent the fruit to 25-year-old Mark D’arcy-Smith (right) ‘for a joke’ during his visit to the The Richmal Crompton pub in Bromley, south east London
Recalling the moment the banana was delivered to him and his friend’s table, he said: ‘We both looked at each other then looked at the banana.
‘It clicked that it wasn’t ours. It was clearly sent by someone who was trying to be racist.’
When Mr D’arcy-Smith told staff neither he nor his friend had ordered the food, they were told an order via the pub’s app was made for one banana to go to their table number 102.
He added: ‘My friend went to talk to a staff member but they didn’t see what the issue was. He said, ‘do you know what’s wrong here”.
‘They thought they had brought an incorrect order. We had to explain what was wrong with that.
‘I was sat on my own at this point. I looked around to see if I could spot anyone. I got anxious. I think someone sent it because it was anonymous.’
Mr D’arcy Smith was left disappointed that his complaint was not taken seriously by the staff at Wetherspoons, which has since apologised to him.
Adamant the banana order was racially motivated, he contacted the police upon leaving the pub and detectives set about tracing the sender.
Kincella was arrested on January 17 at his home in Mottingham, south east London, when he claimed it was just done ‘for a joke’, Scotland Yard said.
Mr D’arcy-Smith was left humiliated when a waiter carried the single 30p banana to him on a plate
While he did not deny being in the pub and admitted ordering the banana, he insisted he did not intend it to go anywhere other than his own table, Scotland Yard said.
He was charged with a racially aggravated offence under the Public Order Act and last Friday – the day of his 20th birthday – was found guilty by magistrates.
At Bexley Magistrate’s Court, Kincella was fined a total of £600 and ordered to pay court costs of £620.
After the verdict Mr D’arcy-Smith said: ‘Hearing the verdict felt like a massive weight was lifted from my shoulders.’
Detective Inspector Stuart Hart, head of the Safeguarding Team at the Met Police, said a specially dedicated team devoted a large amount of time to the ‘painstaking investigation’.
He added: ‘There was no CCTV available, and it was not a straightforward matter to identify the suspect.
‘This required a painstaking investigation by my lead officer, who paid meticulous attention to minor details in order to gather the vital evidence that led to this successful result.
‘Hate crimes are a priority for the Met and we take all allegations very seriously.
‘We know these are historically under-reported and would urge any victims to come forward and report to us – or to one of our third party partners if they feel more comfortable talking to them.’
Since the easing of the pandemic lockdown pub ordering apps, especially at Wetherspoon pubs, have seen a sharp rise in use in a bid to reduce contact between employees and customers.
J D Wetherspoon has since apologised to Mr D’arcy-Smith and explained that its process allows customers to order food and drinks to tables using numbers on an app – meaning items could be sent anywhere unidentified.