Hal­i­fax taxi driver ac­quit­ted of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing fe­male pas­sen­ger

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY ALY THOM­SON

A judge has ac­quit­ted a Hal­i­fax taxi driver of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a fe­male pas­sen­ger, say­ing the ev­i­dence in the case left her with rea­son­able doubt about the man’s guilt.

Seyed Mir­saeid-Ghazi let out a sigh of re­lief and pressed his hands against his face as Jus­tice Ann Smith de­liv­ered her de­ci­sion Thurs­day in Nova Sco­tia Supreme Court. The Crown had al­leged Mir­saeid-Ghazi rubbed the young woman’s thigh and touched her breast in the front seat of his cab af­ter pick­ing her up in the area of Wind­sor and Al­lan streets in Oc­to­ber 2015.

But defence lawyer Luke Craggs dis­puted the al­le­ga­tions dur­ing the trial, say­ing the woman at­tached her­self to the driver when she got in the cab be­cause she was cold, prompt­ing him to push her off.

In her five-hour oral de­ci­sion, Smith said when she con­sid­ered the ev­i­dence as a whole, she could find “no ob­jec­tive ba­sis for dis­be­liev­ing ei­ther Mr. Mir­saeid-Ghazi or (the com­plainant) as to what took place.”

“Although (the com­plainant) was un­shaken in her ev­i­dence as to what she said Mr. Ghazi did to her in terms of the al­leged assault, she also said in cross-ex­am­i­na­tion that she couldn’t re­mem­ber if, af­ter she hugged Mr. Mir­saei­dG­hazi, if she in fact did so, she was try­ing to warm her­self in his space,” said Smith in her de­ci­sion, which was be­ing trans­lated in real time to Mir­saeid-Ghazi’s first lan­guage of Farsi. “If she was, that ev­i­dence would be con­sis­tent with Mr. Ghazi’s ev­i­dence that (com­plainant) was in his space and that is why he used his hand to push her away.”

Smith said while she does not be­lieve all of Mir­saeid-Ghazi’s ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing tes­ti­mony about the com­plainant’s level of in­tox­i­ca­tion, “the ev­i­dence gen­er­ally has left me in a rea­son­able doubt as to whether a sexual assault oc­curred.”

The com­plainant’s name is pro­tected by a pub­li­ca­tion ban.

Pros­e­cu­tor Josie McK­in­ney had ar­gued in clos­ing ar­gu­ments in March that the Crown had proven its case beyond a rea­son­able doubt, say­ing the tes­ti­mony of other wit­nesses — univer­sity stu­dents who were with the al­leged vic­tim that night — cor­rob­o­rated her story.

Mir­saeid-Ghazi

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