Nova Scotia

Bassam Al-Rawi, former Halifax cab driver, moves to quash sexual assault charge

Bassam Al-Rawi, a former Halifax taxi driver at the centre of a controversial acquittal, is moving to quash one of two sexual assault charges he faces.

Al-Rawi is accused of sexual assault in 2 separate incidents and he's trying to have 1 of the charges tossed

Bassam Al-Rawi appears in Halifax provincial court during a sexual assault trial in February 2017. (Jeff Harper/Metro Halifax)

A former Halifax taxi driver at the centre of a controversial acquittal is now moving to quash one of two sexual assault charges he faces.

The lawyer for Bassam Al-Rawi served notice of his intention during an appearance in Halifax provincial court on Monday afternoon.

The charge in question stems from an alleged incident in December 2012. A woman approached Halifax Regional Police to say she got in a cab in downtown Halifax and was taken to a residence where she was sexually assaulted by the cab driver.

Police didn't lay a charge initially

Police investigated the allegation and closed the file in March 2013 without laying a charge.

Al-Rawi was subsequently charged with a second alleged sexual assault involving a different female passenger. That incident is alleged to have happened in 2015.

In March 2017, Al-Rawi was tried and acquitted on a sexual assault charge relating to the 2015 incident. His acquittal drew national headlines when the judge in his oral decision said "clearly a drunk can consent," in reference to the condition of the complainant in that case.

The acquittal led to protests and a formal complaint was lodged against the judge, Gregory Lenehan of the Nova Scotia provincial court.

The Crown appealed Al-Rawi's acquittal and in January of this year, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ordered a new trial. Lawyers for the Crown and defence will appear in provincial court next month to set dates for that retrial.

While that case was proceeding through the courts, police took another look at the allegation from 2012. In September 2017, police say they received new information that led to another sexual assault charge being laid against Al-Rawi.

What Al-Rawi's lawyer will be arguing

Ian Hutchison, Al-Rawi's new lawyer, said that charge should be quashed. To make his case, Hutchison wants to call the police officer who originally decided against charging his client. Hutchison said she is now living and working in Ottawa. He also wants to hear from the officer who ultimately decided a charge was warranted.

This case will return to court next month and lawyers will set a date for the hearing.

Al-Rawi has not entered a plea on that charge as he hopes it will go away as a result of his application.

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