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Seyed Mirsaeid-Ghazi waits at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on March 15, 2018.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has reserved her decision in the case of a Halifax taxi driver accused of groping a female passenger.

Closing arguments were made Thursday at the trial of Seyed Mirsaeid-Ghazi, who is facing one charge of sexual assault in an alleged October 2015 incident.

The Crown alleges Mirsaeid-Ghazi rubbed the woman’s thigh and slid his hand down the top of her dress and touched her bare breast as she sat in the front seat of his cab.

“There is no reason for (her) to fabricate these allegations,” prosecutor Josie McKinney said of the alleged victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban.

McKinney argued to Justice Ann Smith 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.

She said the complainant had called Mirsaeid-Ghazi, who is in his late 40s, for a ride back to her central Halifax apartment from a short distance away, after having walked down the street from her apartment with a friend.

“He asked to take her to coffee. She refused. He asked her for a kiss. She refused,” said McKinney.

After he allegedly sexually assaulted her on the short drive, she called her roommate while she was still in the car because she felt unsafe, said McKinney. Once the cab was outside of her apartment, her friend came outside to meet her and had testified that the alleged victim appeared to be in distress, the prosecutor said.

“This was a short incident that fell on the scale of sexual assault on the lower end, yet it still had emotional impact on (the alleged victim),” she said.

“This emotional breakdown makes sense given the sexual assault that had just taken place, and it’s consistent with her emotional breakdown in court when recalling that sexual assault.”

But defence lawyer Luke Craggs argued the complainant’s testimony was not credible. He noted that Mirsaeid-Ghazi’s version of events is much different.

He said the young woman — who was 21 years old at the time — was in a dress and had been outside in cool weather, and when she got into Mirsaeid-Ghazi’s cab, she attached herself to him, prompting him to push her off.

“He was concerned about his ability to operate the car safely,” said Craggs, adding that Mirsaeid-Ghazi also testified that she refused to put on her seatbelt and appeared very drunk.

Craggs said when they arrived at her apartment, the woman had no money. He grew angry with her and told her to leave and never call him again, he said.

He also noted a text message she sent to her mother that said “M drunk” and asked for money for food, which he said inferred she was intoxicated that night, despite her testimony that she was buzzed but not drunk.

“Our concern is that she understated her level of impairment under oath. The question is what does that do to her credibility?” said Craggs, as the proceedings were translated to Farsi for Mirsaeid-Ghazi.

“If she’ll lie under oath about one thing, how can she be trusted about other things?”

Craggs also questioned the timeline of events, saying text messages and phone call records corroborate Mirsaeid-Ghazi’s version of the evening. He said those issues cast reasonable doubt, and asked for an acquittal.

Smith reserved her decision until May 11.

Halifax police said the incident was reported to them in November 2015 and Mirsaeid-Ghazi was charged in April 2016.

Municipal spokesman Brendan Elliott said Mirsaeid-Ghazi’s taxi licence was suspended after the charge was laid.

He said the suspension was appealed, but Halifax’s appeals committee upheld the suspension in June 2016. Elliott said the suspension will be reviewed once the trial is over.

“As is the case with any taxi driver charged criminally, we would look at the circumstances, evidence presented, and outcome of the trial to determine whether we feel the person is fit to be behind the wheel,” said Elliott in an email statement.

“Our focus is on public safety, regardless of the outcome criminally.”

A number of Halifax taxi drivers have faced allegations of sexual assault in recent years.

In January, a taxi driver acquitted of sexually assaulting a drunk and unconscious woman was ordered to again stand trial in a case that sparked a national debate over intoxication and the capacity to consent to sex.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal had concluded the judge that presided over Bassam Al-Rawi’s trial erred in law by finding there was no evidence of lack of consent.

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