A BIRMINGHAM minicab driver has been find £1,000 after he turned away a blind customer and his assistance dog.
Hafeez Ahmed (45) told Birmingham Magistrates Court that he thought the animal was a family pet and not a guide dog.
When told by the customer that the dog was a registered animal, Mr Ahmed said he refused to take them because he had been “racially abused” and felt “upset”.
The unnamed blind man was then forced to make alternative travel arrangements into Birmingham and so missed his train, which cost him £150 in further expenses.
Christine Howrie, prosecution counsel for Birmingham City Council, said Ahmed had been working for 24/7 Cars when he received a call to take a number of customers from the Adult Residential College in Selly Oak to the city centre.
The cab driver was told there would be three people plus a guide dog and that they were catching a train to Scotland from Birmingham’s New Street train station.
Mrs Howrie said Mr Ahmed refused to take them when he arrived and added:
It was obvious the animal was an assistance dog as it was in a harness. He was told he was being unreasonable and was reminded of his obligations under disability legislation. But, he still refused.
Defence counsel Ray McVeighty said the incident had been a “misunderstanding” and that Ahmed had not been convinced that the dog before him was an assistance animal.
The chairman of the magistrates bench told Ahmed: “This has left us feeling very concerned about the way that disabled people are not getting the assistance and support they are entitled to. We hope that you will now spread the message amongst your fellow taxi drivers about this.”
Married father-of-two Ahmed pleaded guilty to a breach of the 2010 Equality Act and was fined £373 with court costs of £634.