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Halifax taxi driver guilty of sexual assault has licence appeal partially allowed

City’s appeals standing committee decided Ahror Mamadiev can apply for taxi licence next September.

Ahror Mamadiev was denied his appeal to reinstate his taxi license in City Hall Thursday.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Ahror Mamadiev was denied his appeal to reinstate his taxi license in City Hall Thursday.

A taxi driver who groped a female passenger’s buttocks and “vaginal area” could be allowed to drive a cab in Halifax again.

Ahror Mamadiev, 43, was found guilty of the August 2014 sexual assault, and given a conditional discharge at his sentencing in September.

At that time, the city permanently revoked his taxi licence.

But at a meeting Thursday, the city's appeals standing committee partially allowed Mamadiev's lawyer's argument that his licence should be reinstated.

The committee voted to uphold the revocation of his licence for one year, allowing Mamadiev to reapply for one on Sep. 3, 2016 - one year after the licence was originally revoked.

“It’s a partial win,” said Mamadiev’s lawyer, Ian Joyce, after the hearing, adding that he had yet to speak to his client at length.

An anything-but-routine committee meeting

A typically routine Halifax committee meeting was anything but Thursday, as a taxi driver found guilty of sexual assault appealed the revocation of his taxi license.

The committee debated whether Ahror Mamadiev should be allowed to drive a cab in Halifax after he was found guilty of groping a female passenger outside her home in August 2014, and then given a conditional discharge in September.

After clarifying the meaning of a conditional discharge, three of the four councillors sitting on the committee seemed poised to allow the appeal, with Brad Johns arguing Mamadiev’s licence should remain revoked.

“Ultimately, we have a role to make sure that the citizens that we represent feel that when they get into a taxi they are safe and secure,” he said.

Around that time, four members of Anonymous who’d been protesting outside city hall came into council chambers.

The motion was put on the floor, but just before the vote, a woman in the gallery stood up, asking if she could make a submission to the committee on behalf of the public.

 “This individual is not a party to this appeal,” argued Mamadiev’s lawyer, Ian Joyce, before being interrupted.

“The public is a party to the appeal, actually,” shouted one of the members of Anonymous.

Fearing the precedent it might set, the committee eventually decided not to allow the woman to speak.

“If you were here on time, perhaps, and if you were representing the victim in this particular case, I think there would be merit, but I would say no,” said committee chair Coun. Steve Adams.

During a discussion about the ramifications of the ruling, the same Anonymous protestor spoke up again.

“It’s rape,” she shouted before being escorted from council chambers.

During his submissions, Joyce characterized the sexual assault not as rape, but as a “low level assault.”

Joyce argued his client was an “extremely low” risk to reoffend, and pointed to his conditional discharge -- 12 months probation, 50 hours community service, and a spot on the registered sex offenders list -- as evidence that the court agreed.

Whitman sat out because of perceived conflict of interest

There are usually five councillors on the appeals standing committee, but newly minted deputy mayor Matt Whitman recused himself from the discussion, citing a conflict of interest based on comments he made to Metro on Monday.

He told Metro after the meeting Thursday that Mamadiev’s laywer had contacted the city and suggested his comments showed he had already made up his mind on the vote, and that his participation would be a conflict of interest.

“So gladly, I’ll avoid being a part of that,” he said after the meeting.

When asked his feelings on the decision, Whitman would only say, “I trust my colleagues.”

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