Banana thrower fined $200 (Update)
London Community News
By John Matisz/London Community News
Banana thrower Christopher Moorhouse will pay $200 plus costs for the incident after it was deemed not racially motivated during his court hearing this morning (Jan. 9).
The 26-year-old London resident was charged with “engage in a prohibited activity on premises” under the Trespass to Property Act after he threw a banana onto the ice at the John Labatt Centre during NHL exhibition game on Sept. 22, 2011. Black player Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers was approaching the Detroit Red Wings net during a shootout when the banana hit the ice surface.
The incident did not meet the threshold of a hate crime nor did it fall under any form of mischievous behaviour since the banana did not directly interfere with the play.
Moorhouse could have been fined up to $2,000. He was not in attendance at London's Provincial Offenses Court because of safety concerns, but pleaded guilty through his lawyer, Faisal B. Joseph of Lerners Personal Injury Law.
It was revealed in court proceedings that Moorhouse had consumed alcohol that evening, and had purchased the banana at a concession stand at the end of the game, just prior to the shootout.
Joseph presented a thorough package to the Justice of the Peace, Robert Seneshen, with character references and examples of Moorhouse's charity work. However, the main topic of discussion throughout the hearing was the media's role in condemning Moorhouse before evidence was made public.
"It was a single, silly act not racially motivated and he has already paid a tremendous price," Seneshen said.
Joseph was adamant in pointing out the alleged victim, Simmonds, handled the situation correctly, having never publicly accused Moorhouse of committing a racist act. He noted the Saunders Secondary School graduate sent apology letters to the Flyers organization, Simmonds himself and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before charges were even laid.
Following the judge's decision, Joseph called the whole situation, and the media circus in general, a "gongshow." His disgust is rooted in the assumptions made by both media outlets and the general public.
"Absolutely appalled. Absolutely ridiculous," Joseph said of the backlash Moorhouse faced for a non-criminal act. "And for people to be giving death threats to his family – over a banana?.
"The banana was not loaded and nobody was killed."
Joseph said his client, who is just two credits shy of obtaining a diploma in Police Foundations from Fanshawe College, lost weight because of the scrutiny. He also mentioned Moorhouse broke down in tears every time they would meet in large part due to the "shame he feels he has brought to the city of London, Philadelphia Flyers and National Hockey League."
"Unfortunately, we had members of our community — from politicians to media personalities to you-name-it — convicting him of a crime he had not been charged for," Joseph added. "I had been interviewed by media outlets, asking, 'how does it feel to represent a racist?'"
With attention coming from all corners of the world — from CNN, Fox News and ESPN to media outlets as far as Denmark — Joseph said his overwhelmed client is simply hoping to begin living a normal life again.
"What he wants is for this to be done and over with," he said, adding Moorhouse took a month off of work following the incident. "Again, not a criminal act. He was fined for throwing something on the ice. That's it. That's the story, good luck Fox and CNN."