Halifax cab driver accused of sexual assault returns to stand for second day

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WATCH: Former Halifax taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi took the stand for a second time at his sexual assault retrial on Thursday. Elizabeth McSheffrey reports – Apr 18, 2019

Warning: This story contains details that may disturb some readers. Discretion is advised. 

In his second day of testimony at Halifax provincial court, former cab driver Bassam Al-Rawi vigorously denied allegations that he assaulted a drunk passenger in his taxi on May 23, 2015.

It’s the first time he’s provided his own evidence on what took place between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. that morning.

When asked by his lawyer, Ian Hutchison, whether he sexually touched the woman, he said, “Never. It didn’t happen.”

READ MORE: Former Halifax cab driver Bassam Al-Rawi defends himself against sexual assault charge in court

A number of aspects of his evidence on Thursday ran contrary to the testimony of the police officer who found him that night, allegedly between the legs of the young woman who was unconscious and naked from the waist down.

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Al-Rawi told the court that the woman “never” lost consciousness in his vehicle, and he did not take any of her clothing off.

In a line of questions from his defence attorney, Al-Rawi explained that the woman — who can’t be named under a publication ban — had stretched her legs out on the console between the two front seats. Al-Rawi believes she took her own pants off, but he didn’t turn around to look.

During cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Carla Ball pressed Al-Rawi’s version of the events that took place that, including his reasoning for the route he took to drive the woman home.

Al-Rawi testified Wednesday that the woman didn’t give him her home address, but when prompted, used hand signals to direct his turns at intersections. He also previously testified that the woman was talkative, told him about boy drama, and allegedly kissed him on the neck.

Ball questioned Al-Rawi as to why he wouldn’t ask a talkative person for their address, to which he said he didn’t think he needed to since he wasn’t concerned for his safety.

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Ball also pressed Al-Rawi on why his jeans button was undone when he was arrested. Al-Rawi claimed he would at times drive with his button undone for comfort, but Ball noted that bylaw requires taxi drivers to be dressed decently with something below the knee.

“Certainly the bylaw doesn’t say your pants can be undone,” Ball noted.

READ MORE: Complainant’s former roommate testifies in Al-Rawi sexual assault case

Al-Rawi was initially cleared of the sexual assault judge in a controversial March 2017 ruling from Judge Gregory Lenehan that said, “Clearly, a drunk can consent.” But that decision was overturned in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, prompting the current retrial.

Al-Rawi is expected to finish his cross examination on May 23, with additional court dates set aside on May 30 and 31. The defence is still expected to call a witness from Emergency Health Services.