Civil servant with lifelong stammer claiming Sainsbury’s petrol station workers laughed at his speech disorder

PUBLISHED: 09:01 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:22 12 July 2017

Phil Bunning who has a speech impediment. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Phil Bunning who has a speech impediment. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

A civil servant with a lifelong stammer is angry after claiming a couple of supermarket petrol station attendants laughed at his speech impediment.

Phil Bunning, 41, from Thorpe Marriott on the outskirts of Norwich, was buying fuel from Sainsbury’s on Longwater Lane in Costessey on Saturday when the incident happened.

The father-of-two, who believes there should be greater awareness of the speech disorder, added one of the two women on duty at time said in front of him: “Why don’t you have another beer?”

He said that upset him more than the laughing because he felt that insinuated he was drink driving, which he was not.

At the time his two daughters were in the car on the petrol station forecourt.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We have apologised to Mr Bunning and are investigating this matter.”

Mr Bunning, who has worked as a civil servant for 10 years, said there were no other customers in the petrol station shop when the alleged incident happened at 8.45am.

He said he had difficulty pronouncing his pump number when asked by one of the women, who he claimed started to mimic him.

Mr Bunning said: “I was standing there and they were laughing. I said I had a stammer. They were copying me.

“They didn’t seem too bothered when I said I had a stammer.

“Normally I’m a strong person because I have had a stammer all my life but this hit a nerve.

“When you have a stammer or stutter you have to be positive. The next time I go back into a petrol station I’m going to think about this. I’m wound up about the situation and feel angry.

“I’m quite a strong character and if that happened to a weaker person it might send them over the edge.”

He added he has experienced negative comments or looks from people throughout his life but was surprised in the Sainsbury’s petrol station because the women were “mature” in age.

The 41-year-old has since lodged a complaint with the supermarket.

Mr Bunning said: “I don’t think there is much awareness of people with a stammer. The first time you notice it is when you hear it. People need to be patient and keep eye contact. Give people with a stammer time.”

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