Taxi driver left blind pensioner stranded

Rita Nicholls, 71, and her guide dog Charlie,
Rita Nicholls, 71, and her guide dog Charlie,

A taxi driver who left a blind 71-year-old and her guide dog stranded after refusing to pick them up has been fined.

Samim Yakubi was worried the dog would urinate or leave hairs in his car after arriving to pick them up in Wolverhampton in October 4 last year.

The 40-year-old, of Hobgate Road, Heath Town, was working for Wednesfield Radio Cars as a private hire driver when the incident occurred.

The company was told Rita Nicholls was planning on travelling with her canine companion Charlie when Yakubi was dispatched.

Magistrates fined Yakubi £80 and ordered him to pay costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £30 after he pleaded guilty to breaching the Equality Act.

City of Wolverhampton Council said Yakubi arrived at the arranged pick-up location in the city’s Market Street but after realising his customer had a dog, said there had been a mistake and drove off.

Yakubi was interviewed under caution by council officers where he admitted that he had lied to Ms Nicholls, saying the real reason he had left the scene was because he was worried the dog would urinate in his car and leave hair on its interior.

Steve Evans, from the council, said: “This was discrimination plain and simple.

“I find it despicable that a private hire driver, who is there to provide a service to everyone, would abandon a blind passenger because he didn’t want a guide dog in his car.

“Yakubi knew he was breaking the law - all drivers undergo disability awareness training, but he went ahead and did it anyway, motivated by purely selfish reasons.”