Former taxi driver gets 22 months in jail for grabbing, kissing passengers

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Former taxi driver gets 22 months in jail for grabbing, kissing passengers

A former St. John's cabbie who forcefully kissed one passenger and hauled down the pants of another within one month in 2016 has been sentenced to a total of 22 months in jail. 

Lulzim — who's known as Leon — Jakupaj will also be placed on the sex offender registry for life, a Newfoundland and Labrador judge ruled in sentencing Wednesday.

Jakupaj was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault in January, after a trial during which the court heard how he grabbed a woman in his City Wide cab by the back of her neck and put his tongue down her throat on March 30, 2016.

More than a week before that, Jakupaj followed a 19-year-old female passenger to a downstairs apartment in Mount Pearl, forcefully kissed her and tried to pull her pants down.

Factoring in Jakupaj's position of trust as a cab driver, Justice Rosalie McGrath sentenced him to two months for the first assault, which she said was less severe than the second.

For the assault on the woman in Mount Pearl, McGrath sentenced him to 20 months. 

She also noted that Jakupaj did not demonstrate a significant amount of understanding the gravity of his acts, but said he didn't have a criminal record at the time of the offences.

McGrath previously said there was no evidence that either woman consented to his sexual acts.

The Crown requested a total sentence of between 2.5 and three years in prison, and a lifetime listing on the sex offender registry.

Defence lawyer Amanda Summers countered with a request for 30-60 days on the first assault, and between five and 18 months for the second assault — meaning a total of six to 20 months incarcerated.

Already serving time

Jakupaj, originally from Kosovo, is already serving a federal sentence for an on-the-job break and enter after he followed a passenger into a home in Kilbride.

That crime was committed after the sexual assaults and eventually led to his arrest.

He was sentenced to four years for that incident.

At the time, he told the court at the age of 12 he became involved in the armed conflict in Kosovo, where he was shot and abused.

However, the judge said there was no evidence to suggest Jakupaj's harsh upbringing was a factor in the break and enter.

He is now a Canadian citizen. 

Jakupaj filed a handwritten appeal in July 2017, arguing the judge presiding over the case didn't like him and that key evidence was not considered.

"The dislike Judge [Raymond] Whalen showed toward me during the trial was obvious," Lulzim Jakupaj wrote in a letter filed with the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court of Appeal.

He said that caused the judge to overlook issues such as the identity of the accused and the timeline of events.

The appeal has not yet been heard by the courts and no date has been set.