News / Halifax

Victim testifies in trial of Halifax taxi driver accused of sexual assault

Bassam Al-Rawi was charged in May 2015 after police saw movement in a cab that was pulled over on the side of the road.

Bassam Al-Rawi appears in Halifax Provincial Court on Thursday.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Bassam Al-Rawi appears in Halifax Provincial Court on Thursday.

Without looking at the accused, the alleged victim in a taxicab sexual assault case testified in court Thursday.

Bassam Al-Rawi, the driver of the cab, appeared in Halifax provincial court to stand trial for one charge of sexual assault.

Al-Rawi can currently drive a cab since he had his taxi license reinstated following the charge, and in December 2015 an HRM commitee confirmed they would not revisit the issue despite a citizen asking Al-Rawi's licence be suspended pending a verdict.

The court heard that the night of Friday, May 22, 2015, the victim headed out to a fundraising event with friends, before going to the Midtown Tavern later that evening.

Around 1:20 a.m. Saturday, a Halifax Regional Police officer testified they saw a cab idling near the corner of Atlantic and Brussels streets, which appeared “suspicious.”

After pulling up behind the cab, Const. Monia Thibault said she could see an unconscious female lying in the backseat, wearing only a pink tank top pulled up over her breasts. The victim was lying at an angle, with her legs up on each of the two front seats. Her personal belongings were spread around inside the cab.

According to Thibault, the victim was “slow to come to,” and appeared confused about where she was that night.

“She was very upset,” Thibault said, adding that the victim was crying and kept apologizing.

Thibault testified that the driver of the cab appeared to be trying to conceal a pair of underwear between himself and the console of the cab, which was part of the Bob’s Taxi fleet. She also said he was fumbling with something in his lap, and noted that when he exited the cab, his pants were undone.

Al-Rawi was arrested at the scene for sexual assault.

After a night of drinking, the victim said she was unable to remember much of what happened after leaving the bar. When asked by the defence, she said she did not recognize Al-Rawi, and doesn’t remember getting into the cab.

The defence lawyer also questioned the victim about whether she becomes “less cautious” when drinking, and if she tends to lose control.

The victim, who was 26 at the time, said she “can only speculate” on how she acts when she’s drunk, since she doesn’t remember anything.

Reports from a private forensics company were entered as evidence, and showed the victim’s DNA was present around Al-Rawi’s mouth.

The trial is scheduled to resume Friday at 9:30 a.m.

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