News / Halifax

'He asked me if I trusted him:' Passenger testifies in new Halifax taxi sex assault trial

Seyed Mirsaeid-Ghazi is accused of sexually assaulting his female passenger on Windsor Street in 2015.

Seyed Mirsaeid-Ghazi enters Halifax Provincial court last year.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Seyed Mirsaeid-Ghazi enters Halifax Provincial court last year.

The complainant in another sexual-assault trial involving a Halifax taxi driver gave an emotional testimony during day one at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Seyed Mirsaeid-Ghazi picked the then 21-year-old woman up on Windsor Street in the early hours of Oct 24. 2015. By April 2016, he was arrested and charged based on the alleged events that took place that night.

The complainant, whose name is protected under a publication ban, said in court Monday that she mentioned to Mirsaeid-Ghazi during the drive that she was cold.

“He placed his hand on my left leg and was rubbing it to warm it up,” she said.

When she became uncomfortable, she turned her body away from him.

But it went further, the complainant said.

“He put his hand down into my dress to grab my chest,” she said.

She started crying during her testimony as she told the court how he asked her to go get coffee with him as they drove past her apartment, and asked her to kiss him.

“He asked me if I trusted him and to look at him,” she said.

She began to get scared, turned her body away again, and said she removed his hand that was on her bare breast.

“I was scared that I wasn’t going to be going home,” she recalled thinking when he passed her apartment.

At no time did she give consent for touching, she said.

She decided to call her roommate at the time, who Metro has decided not to name so as to not identify the complainant.

The complainant put her roommate on speaker phone while in the cab, and she said Mirsaeid-Ghazi pulled a U-turn to drive her back to her apartment.

She also described the events leading up to Mirsaeid-Ghazi picking her up along Windsor Street that night. He was known to her group of friends as a “friendly” cab driver who they called a handful of times for rides, she said.

She had a few alcoholic drinks earlier in the evening while hanging out with some friends, but she and the two other witnesses in the trial said the two or three drinks had little effect on her speech or mobility.

Around 1 a.m. she walked with a friend down to Quinpool Road to meet up with the friend’s boyfriend. Instead of then walking back home alone, the complainant’s friend suggested she get a cab.

When Mirsaeid-Ghazi picked her up, she got into the front seat and they made small talk about the weather, she said.

The complainant’s roommate also took the stand Monday, and described the complainant as distressed as she watched her get out of the cab outside their Windsor Street apartment building.

“She was crying and she was upset,” said the witness.

The Mirsaeid-Ghazi trial will continue Tuesday, and is scheduled to run until Thursday.

Sexual assault allegations involving taxi drivers have been in the spotlight across Canada since former Halifax taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi was acquitted last March in a controversial decision in which provincial court Judge Gregory Lenehan said, “clearly a drunk can consent.”

That decision has since been overturned on appeal, and Al-Rawi is now awaiting a new trial.

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