News / Halifax

Halifax taxi driver acquitted of sexual assault hasn't driven cab since he was charged

Bassam Al-Rawi successfully appealed the suspension of his licence after he was charged, but never filed the proper documentation to drive a cab in Halifax.

Bassam Al-Rawi in Halifax provincial court last month.

Jeff Harper / Metro Order this photo

Bassam Al-Rawi in Halifax provincial court last month.

Even though a municipal appeals committee reinstated his licence pending the outcome of his trial, a Halifax taxi driver acquitted of sexual assault hasn’t driven a cab in the municipality since he was charged in May 2015.

Bassam Al-Rawi was acquitted Wednesday of sexually assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious woman found by police in his cab, the judge citing a lack of evidence around consent in a controversial decision.

When he was charged on May 27, 2015, the municipal taxi licensing office suspended Al-Rawi’s licence. In August, he successfully appealed that suspension to the municipality’s appeals standing committee, which voted unanimously to reinstate his licence with the conditions that he not drive between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and that he have a camera in his vehicle.

But to the municipality’s knowledge, Al-Rawi hasn’t been working behind the wheel since.

“He was unable to provide us with any documentation to say who he was going to drive for in September, so as a result of that, his licence became non-operational,” spokesperson Brendan Elliott said in an interview.

That documentation is a requirement for any driver. Independent drivers must register companies with the province and provide that documentation to the municipality. Al-Rawi never did that, and a search of his name in the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stocks turns up no relevant results.

Now that Al-Rawi’s been acquitted, the municipality will determine, based on its bylaw, “whether he’s fit and proper” to drive a cab.

“That’s the standard,” Elliot said. “It’s pretty vague, but vague on purpose because we want to really ensure that we have complete control over whether or not we feel it’s safe for him to be back behind the wheel.”

If the municipality revokes Al-Rawi’s licence, he’ll be able to appeal that decision to the appeals standing committee.

Coun. Matt Whitman, who was chair of the appeals standing committee in August 2015, did not return a request for comment on Thursday.

Along with Whitman, councillors Steve Adams, Russell Walker and David Hendsbee, and now-former councillors Gloria McCluskey and Brad Johns voted unanimously to reinstate Al-Rawi’s licence after a 20-minute closed-door meeting.

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