A suspected Banksy artwork of a pouting girl on the wall of a Hounslow pub has been covered up with what appears to be a burka.
The 6ft mural of a petulant, pig-tailed child posing under the word 'smile', printed in multi-coloured letters, first appeared around seven years ago on the side of what was then the North Star pub, opposite Hounslow station.
It bears all the hallmarks of the renowned guerrilla artist, who is known for his use of black and white stencilled images and his tongue-in-cheek, often subversive, sense of humour.
The Bristol-born maestro is highly secretive and refuses to confirm or deny whether work is his own, despite having spawned a host of copycat urban artists.
But the work, on the side of what is now the Platform 3 pub, in Whitton Road, has long been rumoured to be one of his and the image is even available printed on t-shirts and mugs from a website selling Banksy merchandise.
Sandra D'Souza said she was a big fan of the mural and Banksy in general, and was horrified to see it had been defaced when she passed the pub on Sunday (March 15).
"I used to live in Hounslow and worked just around the corner from the pub, and I always used to admire the Banksy there," she told getwestlondon. "I'm sure it brought a smile to the face of lots of other people passing by and it's such a shame it's been defaced like this.
"I wonder whether more could have been done to protect the mural by the pub or anyone else."
Mrs D'Souza added that her son had even studied the mural as part of a school project entitled 'art or graffiti' just last year.
She said the St Michael and St Martin Catholic Primary School pupil had been thrilled to learn he had a Banksy on his doorstep.
As well as the girl's face and body being covered with what appears to be a black burka, a number of graffiti tags have been sprayed above the image.
Mrs D'Souza's husband, however, believes Banksy may have simply "updated" his own work.
The Whitton Road mural is not the only suspected Banksy in Hounslow. A dripping tap spotted on the wall of a disused building by the M4, in Brenftord, which was spotted in 2011, is also believed by some to be his handiwork.
Banksy recently travelled to Gaza, where he left his distinctive mark on bomb-damaged buildings in the war-ravaged Palestinian territory.
getwestlondon was unable to contact Platform 3 or Banksy for a comment.