N.S. court reserves decision in cabbie's appeal of sexual assault conviction

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Bassam Al-Rawi walks outside the courtroom during a break at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax in August 2020. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Bassam Al-Rawi walks outside the courtroom during a break at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax in August 2020. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Nova Scotia's highest court has reserved its decision in the case of a former Halifax taxi driver who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman more than eight years ago.

Bassam Al-Rawi was convicted of attacking the woman in his Bedford, N.S., apartment early on Dec. 15, 2012.

He had picked up the woman in his cab in downtown Halifax. She had come into the city the day before, was lost and had become highly intoxicated.

In arguments before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Friday, lawyer Ian Hutchison said the trial judge failed to consider how selective the woman's memory was when assessing her credibility.

Hutchison said the woman had clear recollections of the sexual activity but claimed to have no memory of developments that could have supported Al Rawi's defence.

That included a six-minute phone conversation she had with her brother as she rode in the taxi on her way to Al-Rawi's apartment, and a later exchange of text messages with her brother.

Al-Rawi has been instructed to return to Canada two weeks before the Court of Appeal issues its decision.
Al-Rawi has been instructed to return to Canada two weeks before the Court of Appeal issues its decision.(Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Halifax Regional Police had initially investigated the woman's complaint but decided not to lay charges.

Hutchison said the case only resurfaced after the woman heard media reports that Al-Rawi had been acquitted in another case of sexual assault.

That case generated controversy when the original trial judge said "clearly a drunk can consent" in his decision to acquit. Al-Rawi was eventually retried and acquitted a second time.

Following his conviction in this case, Al-Rawi was sentenced to two years in prison.

However, he has been free on conditions and living in Germany while awaiting this appeal. He has been instructed to return to Canada two weeks before the Court of Appeal issues its decision.

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