A young British man who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy has recently been banned from shop B & M in Ashford, England after he injured two customers during a seizure.
Barry Fleming, aged 21, had an epileptic fit while standing in line waiting to pay at the discount store in Ashford town center on 15 January last. One woman was knocked over onto the floor and bitten by Barry in the course of the seizure. She had to be taken to hospital and needed two stitches to close the deep cut in her face inflicted by Barry. Police and an ambulance crew were called out to the incident, during which another two shoppers were also harmed.
Barry has consequently been barred from going back to the store, and now has a grievance against them, as he feels it is a breach of his human rights. Speaking to Kent Online news website, he said:
“ I am being discriminated against because of my epilepsy. It’s a rare condition, which makes me violent when I don’t want to be violent at all. That is not my intention, to hurt people.” (Quoted in Kent Online, 28 January 2020).
His partner warns the public to stay away from him as much as possible when they are out. Barry explained how the most recent incident happened when he was in the store on his own; that he started fitting, fell on the floor and pulled a woman down with him, then inadvertently bit her twice. The store has told him he is a liability, and now not allowed back there. He says that it is discrimination, barring him because he is epileptic and that he should have the same rights as everyone else.
Mr. Fleming says he can have up to 20 seizures per day. He is not able to work due to his condition, and has a service dog to help him around, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Lexi. The dog alerts people when a seizure is starting, then puts him in the recovery position, and licks his face when he is coming round following the episode.
One of the shoppers who witnessed the seizure in the shop said she thought that the way the staff was restraining him was too forceful and completely inappropriate and that it is a complete breach of his human rights, to not allow him back in the store, because of his medical condition.
Police are currently still investigating the incident, to see if any criminal offenses may have been committed.
On the face of it, this line taken by B & M does seem very discriminatory and punitive. After all, Barry Fleming cannot help having epilepsy and has the same human rights as anyone else. That being said, the safety of the general public also needs to be taken into account, and businesses also need to retain the right to deny service to certain people if they feel it is appropriate. This is the kind of incident which, if it happened regularly in the store, could stop customers going in there, and hence affect the business adversely.
Image credit: www.kentonline.co.uk