Nova Scotia

Woman says she can't remember cab ride with driver accused of sex assault

Former Halifax cab driver Bassam Al-Rawi was acquitted at his first sex assault trial, provoking a national outcry about the conduct of the trial judge, who said in his ruling that "clearly, a drunk can consent."

'I believe I was quite intoxicated,' complainant testifies at former cab driver's second trial

Former taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi is being tried for a second time on a charge of sexual assault. He was acquitted in his first trial in 2017. (Robert Short/CBC)

A woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a former Halifax cab driver testified Wednesday she had at least five beers, two tequila shots and a vodka drink on the night she took a taxi driven by Bassam Al-Rawi.

"I believe I was quite intoxicated," she said in Halifax provincial court.

It is the second trial for Al-Rawi who was acquitted at his first trial in March 2017.

That acquittal provoked a national outcry, including street protests and complaints about the conduct of the trial judge, after he said in his ruling that "clearly, a drunk can consent."

The complainant, who is now in her late 20s, told the court she didn't have a chance to eat supper and consumed the drinks on an empty stomach.

She recalled drinking the draft beer at a fundraising event that started at 8 p.m. and then went on to a downtown bar, where she drank the tequila and vodka.

From there, the woman's memory gets hazy.

What is known is that she ended up taking an 11-minute cab ride from the downtown bar district to the south end, far from her intended destination in the west end of Halifax.

'I don't remember anything'

On Tuesday, Halifax Regional Police Const. Monia Thibault described to the court finding the woman passed out and mostly naked in the back seat of a taxi when she arrived on scene that May morning in 2015. 

"I don't remember anything" after about 10:20 p.m. that night, the complainant testified.

"I remember standing at the bar. I don't remember much else."

The woman said she has vague memories of being in the back of an ambulance but nothing clear. She only learned where the ambulance had picked her up when she got the bill for the ambulance ride.

She said she also remembers lying down and being attended to by two nurses at the hospital. There was a female police officer there, the woman said, but she doesn't remember anything the officer said or did.

The CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged from court. Mobile users can read here.

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