Cabbie acquitted of sex assault no longer licensed to drive a taxi in Halifax

Halifax cabbie's licence has expired

HALIFAX — A cab driver who was acquitted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman in the back of his taxi no longer has a licence to drive a cab in the Halifax area.

Bassam Al-Rawi’s taxi driver’s licence expired on Friday, according to Halifax Regional Municipality spokesman Brendan Elliott.

Elliott said Al-Rawi’s licence was suspended by the municipality in May 2015 after charges were laid, but an appeals committee overturned that suspension in August 2015 with conditions including that he only work between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

In September 2015, the municipality deemed his licence to be “non-operational” because he couldn’t provide the taxi licensing office with documentation to show who he would be driving for.

Elliott said no documents were filed by Friday — when his licence was due to expire — and as a result he is no longer a licensed taxi driver in the municipality.

“To be specific with what Friday signified, if he had come in on that day to apply for a renewal we would have followed through the process of determining if he was ‘fit and proper’ to be behind the wheel,” said Elliott in an email Tuesday.

“But because he didn’t, his licence expired.”

The Crown announced last week it would appeal the acquittal of Al-Rawi, saying Judge Gregory Lenehan made multiple legal mistakes when he found the 40-year-old man not guilty, including that he erred in law by concluding the Crown had offered no evidence of lack of consent from the complainant.

The province’s Public Prosecution Service said Tuesday that Al-Rawi had been served a notice of the appeal.

On May 23, 2015, police say they found a woman passed out, partially dressed and highly inebriated in the back of Al-Rawi’s cab on a residential street in south end Halifax.

A warrant filed in court states that an officer approached the idling cab and spotted the woman, naked from the waist down and her tank top pushed up.

The officer stated that when Al-Rawi got out of the cab, she noticed his pants were partly down and his zipper was undone.

He was charged with sexual assault, but was acquitted by Judge Gregory Lenehan, who ruled that the Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the woman did not consent to sexual activity — a decision that prompted protests and much debate over how the courts handle such sensitive cases.

The judge said a person is incapable of consent if they are unconscious or are so intoxicated that they are unable to understand or perceive their situation.

“This does not mean, however, that an intoxicated person cannot give consent to sexual activity,” he said. “Clearly, a drunk can consent.”

Al-Rawi was questioned after similar allegations three years earlier, according to court documents.

A woman, who is not named in the search warrant, said she was driven to an apartment by a cab driver, taken upstairs and sexually assaulted sometime in 2012. At the time, she told police she had limited recollection of the assault.

The document states that Al-Rawi was questioned and told police he did not recall the incident, and said he would not force someone to have sex and “that he had never had intercourse with someone who was sleeping or passed out.”

Halifax police Const. Dianne Penfound has said officers investigated an allegation five years ago, but found at the time that there was not enough evidence to proceed with a charge.

She has said they are now reviewing the investigation into the alleged sexual assault on Dec. 15, 2012, that involved a cab driver, but could not confirm the suspect’s name since charges have not been laid.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Brendan Elliott’s name.

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