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Woman was passed out, mostly naked in Halifax taxi driver s car: constable

Woman was passed out, mostly naked in Halifax taxi driver s car: constable
Canada
HALIFAX -- A Halifax police constable has described finding a young woman passed out and mostly naked in the back seat of a taxi, the driver between her legs.

Const. Monia Thibault told Bassam Al-Rawi s retrial Tuesday that she was searching for a robbery suspect on May 23, 2015, when she came upon a cab parked in the city s south end with the rear window fogged up.

Thibault says she saw a woman naked in the back seat except for a tank top that was pushed up, partially exposing her breasts, and her legs were propped up on the front seats.

She says the taxi driver initially had his body turned towards the back seat and between the woman s legs, and started fumbling with a pair of pants and panties, attempting to stuff them in the console area of the vehicle.

The constable asked him what he was doing and told him to step out of the vehicle. He was then arrested.

Al-Rawi faces a charge of sexual assault, after an acquittal was overturned last January by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

Thibault said the young woman appeared unconscious when she came upon the taxi.

"She wasn t moving. She wasn t talking. Her eyes were closed," Thibault said, adding that she had to shake the woman to wake her up.

"She was very confused and upset. She was crying... She didn t really know where she was."

Thibault said the complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, had a soft voice that sounded like a "little girl," and she could smell alcohol on her breath. Her eyes her glossy and bloodshot, she said.

The constable said the woman was crying off and on as they travelled to the hospital in an ambulance.

Al-Rawi, wearing a grey pinstripe suit with a white collared shirt and black tie, sat with a notepad and tablet on his lap next to an Arabic interpreter during proceedings Monday.

Al-Rawi is also accused of sexual assault in an alleged 2012 incident. Police had decided in March 2013 there was insufficient evidence to charge him, but they took another look at the file in 2017 and decided there were grounds for a sexual assault charge.

He had previously moved to quash that 2012 charge, but Hutchison said Monday that his client no longer plans to move forward with the quashing attempt.

The appeal court concluded the judge that presided over Al-Rawi s first trial in March 2017, Judge Gregory Lenehan, erred in law by finding there was no evidence of lack of consent.

Lenehan s comment in his decision that "clearly, a drunk can consent" to sex sparked a national debate over intoxication and the capacity to consent to sex.

An independent judicial review committee last year dismissed several complaints against Lenehan, saying it found no evidence of impermissible reasoning or bias in his ruling.
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