Cab driver fined for refusing to carry a guide dog

Fred Hicks and Uri
Fred Hicks and Uri

A taxi driver has been fined for refusing to pick up a man and his guide dog but his actions have left the victim unable to use taxis since.

Fred Hicks, 70, who lost his sight after having two strokes, now relies on his son to get about since he was refused carriage last year.

The father-of-three was in court to see Shishu Miah, 45, of Old Ford End Road, Bedford, found guilty of failing to accept the booking of a disabled person with an assistance dog.

Luton Magistrates fined Miah £70, and ordered him to pay court costs of £200 and a £20 victim surcharge at the hearing on Monday, January 18.

Speaking about the incident, which happened on May 10, 2015, Mr Hicks described how Miah arrived, said “I don’t take animals”, and drove off.

He said: “It took me aback, and I just thought, ‘I can’t get home’. I obviously have no idea where a bus stop would be.

“I haven’t been in a taxi since. It makes you feel like not going out.”

Mr Hicks has relied on guide dog Uri for four-and-a-half years. He had been to a friend’s house to have lunch in Bedford when they called a taxi.

At the time of the incident highly-trained Uri was wearing his official Guide Dog harness.

Mr Hicks said: “I’m glad I had someone with me who could see otherwise I would have been stranded.”

He is now urging others who are victims of discrimination to speak up. “It happens so many times and people aren’t reporting it,” he said.

Community engagement officer for Guide Dogs Herts and Beds, Louise Jenkins said: “We hope this case reminds service providers of their legal obligations regarding access for people with sight loss and their guide dogs. This experience has been distressing for Mr Hicks and can have a big impact on any assistance dog owner.”

The prosecution was brought by Bedford Borough Council. It will decide whether Miah is allowed to keep his licence, or not, at a later date.

At the time of the incident, Miah was working for A1 Cars, based in Bedford, who sent a second driver to collect Mr Hicks.

A spokesman for A1 said: “We did explain to him what the circumstances are when it comes to guide dogs, and you are not allowed to refuse by law but he did not know that.

“We did send another driver straight away. We regularly pick up people with guide dogs and understand people who are disabled need to get about and we are here to help.”