Hal­i­fax cab­bie avoids jail time

Sa­her Ham­dan gets con­di­tional sen­tence, three years pro­ba­tion

Metro Canada (Halifax) - - NEWS - Ha­ley Ryan Metro | Hal­i­fax

A for­mer Hal­i­fax taxi driver con­victed of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing his pas­sen­ger has been handed a sen­tence with no jail time.

Sa­her H. Ham­dan was handed a four-month con­di­tional sen­tence by Judge Michael Sherar in Hal­i­fax pro­vin­cial court Thurs­day, fol­lowed by three years of pro­ba­tion. Con­di­tional sen­tences are served at the per­son’s home, and Ham­dan is un­der a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. cur­few through­out this time un­less at­tend­ing his full-time job or a med­i­cal emer­gency.

“(This) was a breach of trust … peo­ple who choose to take a cab in this city or else­where through­out the coun­try do so gen­er­ally not only for con­ve­nience, but also in many cases for young fe­male cus­tomers in the evening hours, for a sense of pro­tec­tion,” Sherar said.

“They choose some­body to take them safely home, and pay­ing to do so. They want to be of­fered some se­cu­rity, not be the sub­ject of sex­ual in­ter­fer­ence. That is not ac­cept­able. Un­for­tu­nately it’s oc­curred with some fre­quency in this prov­ince and across this coun­try.”

The vic­tim, who was 19 years old at the time (and can­not be named due to a pub­li­ca­tion ban), said Ham­dan picked her up from the Lower Deck in Clayton Park around 8:30 p.m. and drove her to a friend’s house in Hal­i­fax on July 15, 2016. She said while parked Ham­dan touched her thigh with­out her con­sent, reached between her legs to pull a latch and slide back her seat, locked the car doors and asked if he could kiss her, be­fore the friend tapped on the win­dow and she left the car.

The sen­tenc­ing comes about eight months af­ter Judge Gre­gory Lene­han’s com­ments on con­sent and de­ci­sion to ac­quit taxi driver Bas­sam Al-rawi of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a pas­sen­ger who was passed out in his cab drew na­tional at­ten­tion.

Ad­dress­ing Ham­dan, who chose not to say any­thing be­fore the sen­tenc­ing, Sherar said “through you to oth­ers” that op­er­at­ing as a taxi driver does not give some­one an op­por­tu­nity to im­pose “sex­ual de­sires” onto cus­tomers.

Sherar said he con­sid­ered other sim­i­lar cases and sen­tences, the fact this as­sault was on the “lower end” of sex­ual as­sault scale although con­se­quences to the vic­tim were “ter­ri­fy­ing,” plus gen­eral de­ter­rence and Ham­dan’s own re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in his de­ci­sion.

Crown at­tor­ney Cory Roberts, who had asked for four months of jail time served over week­ends as well as three years of pro­ba­tion, said out­side court he was happy with the out­come.

“It’ll de­ter oth­ers like him, other taxi driv­ers who may think of do­ing the same, so I think it’s a fair sen­tence,” Roberts said.

De­fence lawyer John O’neill had asked for pro­ba­tion alone, and sug­gested half­way between his sub­mis­sion and the Crown’s would be a con­di­tional sen­tence served at home.

HRM has said that Ham­dan’s taxi li­cence is cur­rently sus­pended pend­ing the out­come of his trial. He has not ap­pealed that sus­pen­sion.

Ham­dan’s sen­tenc­ing con­di­tions in­clude a weapons ban, pro­vi­sion of a DNA sam­ple, a sex of­fender treat­ment pro­gram and other coun­selling deemed nec­es­sary.

JEFF HARPER METRO

Sa­her Ham­dan leaves Hal­i­fax pro­vin­cial court in March.

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