Nova Scotia

Appeal Court upholds acquittal of Halifax cab driver in sex assault case

Nova Scotia's highest court has closed the books on the case of a Halifax cab driver charged with sexually assaulting a female passenger.

Houssen Milad was acquitted of sexually assaulting a passenger more than a year ago

A three-member panel of the Appeal Court denied the appeal Tuesday. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia's highest court has closed the books on the case of a Halifax cab driver charged with sexually assaulting a female passenger.

Houssen Milad was accused of groping a woman as he drove her to an address in the Spryfield neighbourhood of Halifax in June 2016. He was acquitted in September 2017.

Nova Scotia provincial court Judge Gregory Lenehan said at the time he believed the woman, but said the Crown failed to prove the identity of her assailant.

"The investigation in this matter lacked a real critical analysis," Lenehan said in his decision. "She deserved to have her complaint given a more thorough investigation."

Holes in investigation

Among the deficiencies Lenehan found in the Crown's case was a wide discrepancy between the route the woman said her driver took and GPS records provided by Milad's dispatcher on that night.

The judge said police also failed to check the woman's debit transactions to see if there were any from Milad's cab.

The Crown unsuccessfully appealed Milad's acquittal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and finally to the Court of Appeal.

In a brief decision released Tuesday, the high court rejected the Crown's case for a third time.

"[W]e are unanimously of the view that none of the well-settled reasons to grant leave from a decision ... have been satisfied in this case," Justice Duncan Beveridge wrote on behalf of the three-member appeal panel.

Previous acquittal

Lenehan is the same judge who acquitted another taxi driver, Bassam Al-Rawi, on a charge of sexual assault in March 2017. That acquittal touched off a furor over the judge's comment in his decision that "clearly, a drunk can consent."

Al-Rawi's acquittal was successfully appealed and he faces a second trial early next year.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca