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Update on police investigation after woman with guide dog suffers hate crime

PUBLISHED: 13:37 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:37 28 November 2018

The incident happened at Woodbridge station in Suffolk Picture: PAUL GEATER

The incident happened at Woodbridge station in Suffolk Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

A man has contacted police to assist with their enquiries after a partially sighted woman received a torrent of verbal abuse at Woodbridge station.

Officers from British Transport Police (BTP) recently appealed for information after the victim, who was travelling with her guide dog, was accused of being “fake” by a man on the platform.

The incident, which is being treated by police as a hate crime, began at around 10pm on the evening of Wednesday, November 7 at Woodbridge station.

The victim was waiting for a train with her guide dog when she was approached by a man who started petting the dog and asking questions about her disability.

Feeling intimidated, the woman moved away with her dog – which was becoming agitated – and asked the suspect to stop talking to her.

The man then became abusive and began shouting and swearing at the woman over a 25 minute period, saying “you are not disabled, you are fake”.

On board the train, another passenger challenged the man’s behaviour, which resulted in a scuffle.

Disability campaigners have reacted to the news with disgust.

Penny Parker, from the East and Mid-Suffolk branch of the Guide Dogs for the Blind, said the incident would have a “major effect” on the victim, “both emotionally and psychologically”.

Emily Papaleo, East of England network manager for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), added: “It’s shocking in this day and age, but we hear of stories like this all too often where people are told that they ‘don’t look blind’ or they face prejudice, verbal abuse and discrimination.

“At RNIB, we urge everyone to see the person, not the sight loss, so that blind and partially sighted people are valued for who they are, not defined by the disabilities they have.”

Following the police appeal, a man in his 20s contacted police and is helping officers with their enquiries.

A spokesperson for BTP said officers wished to thank the media and public for their help in sharing the appeal.

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