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September 22, 2006
Man with no eyes who drove car is banned from driving
By Gulliver

A man with no eyes became the first blind person in Britain to be convicted of dangerous driving.

Omed Aziz, 31, who lost his sight when a mine exploded in his homeland of Iraq, was banned from driving for three years by magistrates at Oldbury in the West Midlands.

He became Britain's first sightless person to be given such a punishment.

Aziz, who was also given a three-month suspended prison sentence after police found him behind the wheel of a car, said he did not think it was a dangerous thing for him to do.

The imigrant Kurd told reporters: "It was a Sunday night and I had a friend with me telling me what to do. I had only gone about 200 yards."

He said he had to drive: "It's great to challenge yourself. It was the first time I had driven while blind. I used to drive in Iraq. I would drive into the mountains every Friday."

Shocked police stopped the Peugeot 405 car he was driving after it crossed a while line. They were alarmed to find he had just two fingers on his right hand.

But there were more shocks in store when he was asked to remove his sunglasses.

"He didn't have any eyes, your worships," Police Constable Glyn Austin told the court.

The police officers were told that he was "trying his abilities" under guidence from a passenger friend, who was the subject of a driving ban.

The court heard that Aziz, from Darlaston, West Midlands, drove at a speed of up to 35mph (56km/h) in a built-up area.

Aziz came to Britain with his 29-year-old brother Emad five years ago. He claimed that Iraqi intelligence tried to recruit him to bomb Kurdish buildings in 2000. After refusing he was arrested and throw into jail where hesaid he was beaten and tortured.

During a prison escape a mine exploded in his face while crossing open ground. He lost both eyes and three fingers and also part of his hearing.

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