Man in wheelchair thrown out of a cinema because his ventilator was too noisy

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A man confined to a wheelchair says he was thrown out of Britain's largest cinema chain because his life-saving ventilator was making too much noise.

Richard Bridger was kicked out by staff after just 40 minutes after complaints the machine that keeps him alive was a 'nuisance'.

Odeon cinema staff told Richard, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, to leave the screening of Taken 3, after receiving six complaints out of an audience of 200.

Muscular dystrophy charity, Trailblazers, criticised the cinema chain for being discriminatory after ejecting Steve from the Saturday night screening.

Film fan Richard was watching the Liam Neeson movie with his carer at the cinema in Epsom in Surrey from the wheelchair bay when he was asked to leave.

His father Steve, 57, said:

The ventilator does make a small noise, the air rushing and puffing, but it's nothing drastic at all - nowhere near as loud as people eating popcorn. But six people complained that the ventilator was making a nuisance. What about people eating popcorn and rustling the packets? If he was texting or answering phone calls during the film I could understand it, but he can't do any of those things because he doesn't have the physical strength to do them. Richard has been going to that cinema since it opened and, in the last four years, has required the use of the ventilator to keep his carbon dioxide levels down which can be life-threatening if they are raised too high. All he wanted to do was go out and watch a film and it takes a lot of organisation to arrange for Richard to go out. I find it disgusting that, in this age, a person should be treated in this way.

Odeon cinema in Epsom Credit: Google Street View

Mr Bridger, who needs full-time care at his home in Epsom, claims he was told he should not visit the cinema on Friday or Saturday evenings as it is "too busy".

Genetic disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes Steve to have severe weakness to his muscles including the ones that operate his lungs.

Trailblazer's campaigns officer Victoria Wright said she was very disturbed to hear about Richard's plight.

If the noise unfortunately disturbed other customers, then you would hope they would make the compassionate choice to move seats. Richard, on the other hand, has no choice but to use his ventilator to breathe. To remove Richard from the cinema and imply he can only come at certain, less popular times because of his disability, was insensitive and discriminatory.

Victoria Wright, Trailblazer

Odeon has apologised profusely for the way staff dealt with the situation.

We sincerely apologise for the way this matter was handled and for the upset it caused."We are inviting Mr Bridger and his son to return and enjoy Taken 3 at any time as guests of Odeon Epsom. We are also looking again at what happened to ensure it never happens again."The cinema states on its website that it supports the principles of the Equality Act and is committed to recognising and responding to the needs of all disabled people. It is our intention, wherever possible, that all our premises and facilities are accessible whatever the nature of disability.

Jason Stanton, Head of Guest Experience