A private hire driver who drove off after realising his next customer was a hearing-impaired man accompanied by an assistance dog has been ordered to pay more than £1,000.
Naman Yaqub, who drives for Telford based private hire firm, Diamond Cars, faces the anxious wait to see if his private hire licence will now also be stripped by Shropshire Council because of the incident.
The law states that it is illegal for taxi and private hire drivers to refuse to carry passengers with wheelchairs or assistance/guide dogs. The case was heard at Telford Magistrates Court where the victim, Mr Kane, who struggles to hear after years of working around aircraft, walked up to the witness box with his assistance dog, a Cocker Spaniel, named Harley.
As reported by the Shropshire Star, The court heard that Mr Kane had ordered a vehicle to pick him and a friend up from the Royal British Legion in Dawley, Telford after enjoying a couple of drinks on August 3 last year.
When Yaqub, 44, arrived and saw Mr Kane standing with his dog, he locked his doors and said to the men: “No dog,” then drove off. Mr Hilton, who was with Mr Kane, said that he had made it clear when booking the vehicle with the operator that an assistance dog would be travelling in the car with them, but Yaqub said that this information was not given to him.
The defendant claimed that once he was told it was an assistance dog, he offered to return to pick them up. Mr Hilton said in court: “Harley was wearing a coat for the hard of hearing and his lead. As I was approaching the taxi, he locked the doors. I spoke to the driver and all I heard was ‘no dog’. "I said that we had ordered a taxi for my friend with his assistance dog, but he said he was going to Wellington and drove off.” Yaqub claimed that the dog was wearing nothing to indicate that it was an assistance animal, and that he had no message from the Diamond Cars control room to let him know. A statement from the company said that there was no need for them to inform the driver before they arrive.
Yaqub was found guilty by District Judge Nigel Cadbury of failing or refusing to carry out a booking for a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog. Yaqub was ordered to pay a £375 fine, £750 in court costs and a £37.50 victim surcharge.
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