Defence lawyer questions female passenger’s consciousness in closing arguments at Al-Rawi trial

Click to play video: 'Closing arguments begin in retrial of Bassam Al-Rawi'
Closing arguments begin in retrial of Bassam Al-Rawi
WATCH: The sexual assault trial of a former taxi driver is wrapping up as closing arguments are underway at Bassam Al-Rawi's retrial. As Alexa MacLean reports, the defence presented its side on Thursday – May 30, 2019

The defence lawyer of a former Halifax taxi driver presented his closing arguments to Judge Ann Marie Simmons on Thursday..

Ian Hutchison defended Bassam Al-Rawi’s innocence, telling the court that no evidence was presented during the retrial to disprove the defence’s theory that the female passenger took her own pants off.

READ MORE: Police photographs seen in court show scene of alleged sexual assault involving former Halifax taxi driver

Hutchison spent several hours explaining to the court his analysis of the Crown’s suggestions that the female passenger was unconscious in the backseat of his taxi, and had her pants taken off by Al-Rawi.

He told the court if the woman was found unconscious as the arresting police officer testified, she would have been a “dead weight.”

Hutchison argued that Al-Rawi wouldn’t have been able to remove the female’s pants because they were the skinny type of jeans, while she was passed out, from the position of the vehicle that Al-Rawi was found in.

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The defence lawyer questioned how the female passenger could be seen outside of a bar in security camera footage, looking alert and not falling over, and then rapidly lose consciousness after entering Al-Rawi’s taxi.

Hutchison told the court that it wasn’t unreasonable for Al-Rawi to ask the female passenger whether or not she was experiencing “boy drama” based on the emotional state the woman was in when she entered his cab.

The defence told the court that Al-Rawi’s compliments towards the woman shouldn’t be interpreted as an attempt for him to make sexual advances towards her, but to comfort her while she was emotionally distraught.

READ MORE: Former Halifax taxi driver accused of sexual assault finishes testifying in retrial

Hutchison told the court that if it accepts that the woman kissed Al-Rawi’s cheek, it’s reasonable to believe DNA may have been transferred to Al-Rawi’s lip by him rubbing his face afterwards.

Hutchison also questioned why DNA wasn’t found on Al-Rawi’s hand if he was the one who removed the complainant’s pants, as the Crown suggested.

The defence told the court that the woman testified that she wouldn’t have consented to any sexual contact with a taxi driver she didn’t know.

However, the defence argued that the woman was under the influence of alcohol during the alleged incident and that according to a friend who was present that night, it wasn’t uncommon for the female complainant to “act friendly towards strangers” while she was drinking.

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READ MORE: I wouldn’t have consented to sex with taxi driver, woman tells trial

Hutchison told the Crown that he would suggest the woman’s behaviour was “boisterous” that night, based on the testimony delivered by her friends.

He also suggested that boisterous behaviour would have carried over to when she got back into Al-Rawi’s taxi after he stopped to allow her to urinate at her request.

Al-Rawi told the court that he asked the woman not to enter his taxi, but she ignored his request.

Hutchison told the court that the female complainant’s friend testified that she was being irrational and frustrating in her behaviour that night. That led Hutchison to ask the court why it would be unreasonable to assume that she was also behaving poorly in the company of Al-Rawi.

The defence told the court that Al-Rawi’s taxi wasn’t found in a hidden area. It was in plain sight, in a residential area where homes would have likely been occupied.

The defence also focused on testimonies from two police officers regarding the state of Al-Rawi’s zipper when he got out of the taxi.

Both officers told the court Al-Rawi’s zipper was down a few inches. Hutchison argued that the photograph taken of Al-Rawi doesn’t show that his zipper is down that far and that he explained to the court that he unbuttoned his pants while driving in order to be more comfortable.

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Al-Rawi didn’t appear to show any signs of expression or emotion while Hutchison delivered his closing submission.

Judge Ann Marie Simmons will hear closing arguments from the Crown next.

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