OTTAWA — An Ottawa taxi driver found guilty of sexually assaulting a female passenger has been sentenced to two months of house arrest.
Hassan Jabar Majli, 36, stood with his arms behind his back as Ontario Superior Court Justice Denis Power sentenced him for the June 23, 2007 sexual assault in the lobby of a west-end apartment building.
Power said Majli “owed (the victim) a duty to convey her safely home at night.”
“Mr. Majli’s conduct is a serious breach of trust owed to the public at large and the complainant in particular,” said Power. “Citizens must feel safe hailing cabs, especially at night.”
Power, who said he had “considerable difficulty” arriving at a conditional sentence, said a term of incarceration in jail was not out of the question, but he took into account that the sexual assault Majli was convicted of was “not the most serious” and that Majli’s myriad of health problems would be better treated in the community.
Majli, who has since lost his taxi licence, was found guilty of sexual assault in May after court heard testimony from the victim, a teacher, about how the driver followed her into her apartment building and kissed her on the mouth as she tried to get on an elevator.
The victim, who can’t be identified because of a publication ban, testified the driver then put his hand up her skirt and digitally penetrated her as she tried to flee through a stairway door.
The woman admitted she had consumed 10 to 12 pints of beer before getting in the taxi outside the Heart and Crown in downtown Ottawa following a night of celebrating the last day of school.
In his decision, Power found there was sufficient evidence that Majli grabbed and kissed the woman, but concluded the Crown hadn’t proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he digitally penetrated her.
At trial, Majli testified that he believed the woman had asked for a kiss. According to Majli, the woman repeatedly used words in Arabic that she had learned from a friend that meant “I want a kiss” and “I love you.” Majli said he only offered her a “friendly” kiss when he became worried she would complain to his boss that he didn’t “please her.”
However, the judge found the woman, who testified she only used the Arabic phrases in a conversational manner, in no way consented to Majli’s advances and found Majli guilty of sexual assault.
Crown prosecutors had been asking Power to sentence Majli to 30 to 60 days in jail. Majli’s lawyer had been asking for a suspended sentence with credit for four days spent in pre-trial custody.
- A man convicted of sexually assaulting two sisters convinced a judge to give him bail - which he then skipped before sentencing:
OTTAWA-A man who convinced a judge not to send him to jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting two children has been sentenced in absentia to three years in prison after disappearing.
Ibrahim Farhat, 34, received the sentence Tuesday after being found guilty by a jury in March of sexual assault and sexual interference for repeated incidents of sexual touching on two sisters between 1998 and 2003.
Crown prosecutors had been seeking to have him put in jail immediately following his conviction, but Farhat was released after his lawyer convinced Ontario Superior Court Justice Heidi Polowin that he was not a flight risk.
Farhat was “a man who had broken the law and walked away with it,” one of the sisters told the court in her victim impact statement.
“What were once my memories of childhood and adolescence are now his. What should have been some of the happiest, most freeing memories, he holds hostage,” said the now 23-year-old victim, who can’t be identified due to a publication ban.
“He has robbed me of them and turned them into his own. And now he is free. He may be running, but he is still running with freedom … his, mine and my sister’s,” she said.
“This man preyed on the innocence of children, on their weaknesses, their fears, and when he could not stop or help himself, he was brought to you to do so for him. And now we find ourselves lost,” she said, breaking down in tears.
Before passing sentence, the judge said Farhat’s flight “disturbed her greatly.” Polowin described how she accepted his lawyer’s arguments that he had never missed a court date, had a wife and three young children, was gainfully employed and had surrendered his passports.
Polowin said what most convinced her Farhat should be released was his promise to voluntarily attend a sexual behaviours assessment at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. Court heard he never even showed up for the initial appointment.
“This court put its trust in Mr. Farhat. His failure to attend for the sexual behaviours assessment, the pre-sentence report and his absconding is a breach of that trust,” said Polowin, who called his actions following his conviction “reprehensible.”
Trevor Brown was the lawyer who argued Farhat should be released following his conviction, but later asked to be removed from the case.
“All I can say is that I asked to be removed as counsel of record because he absconded from the jurisdiction and stopped communicating with me,” Brown said Tuesday. He said he could not make any further comment as he is still bound by lawyer-client confidentiality rules.
Polowin said there were several aggravating factors in the case, including Farhat’s serious breach of trust as someone close to the family of the victims. In several instances, Polowin said the sexual touching occurred when the father or other family members of the victims were in the next room. At the time of the incidents, the victims were between eight and 15 years old.
Assistant Crown attorney Moiz Karimjee asked Polowin to sentence Farhat to seven years in prison, a lengthy sentence he argued was justified given the nature of the crimes and the fact Farhat fled even though he knew prosecutors had concerns he would fail to show up for sentencing.
Karimjee said Farhat was “denying the victims the satisfaction of seeing that justice is done.
“They participated in a justice system, attended a preliminary hearing, testified at trial and now they are faced with Ibrahim Farhat not being present at sentencing,” said Karimjee.
However, Polowin found a seven-year sentence was too long considering case law from similar crimes and sentenced him to three years in prison instead.
Whether Farhat ever serves a day of that sentence is still in question. Ottawa police Det. Allison Cookson testified that the last contact anyone had with Farhat was in April.
Farhat’s wife and children have since left Canada for Lebanon, she said. Farhat, who was not represented during the hearing, is now being sought on an arrest warrant.
Attempts to locate Farhat have so far been unsuccessful, Cookson said, although police have received and are following up tips, including one that he has been seen in Calgary.
Before handing down her decision, Polowin told the two victims their “extremely” articulate and moving victim impact statements would help her be a better judge for years to come.
“It will help me as a judge to always remember the effect on the victim as we move through this process,” she said.
In her victim impact statement, the younger of the two sisters wrote about how the justice system goes to great lengths to remove “all that is humanistic” from the legal process.
“The emphasis is put on facts, litigation and reason,” the now 19-year-old woman said, leaving very little place for emotion.
“What I was depicting was not something I had seen. I was subjected to it. I felt it. I lived it,” the woman said, describing how it was easy to forget she was a victim. “In light of decisions made along the way, I find myself wondering if others in the court had too forgotten.”
The victim added that in her family and culture, she was “just a girl,” and had since had female relatives look at her in disgust and refuse to shake her hand, “not because I had been abused, but because I spoke it.” Neither her mother nor her father attended the sentencing hearing.
Farhat is described as Middle Eastern. He is five-foot-seven with a heavy build, short black hair, brown eyes and a moustache and goatee, according to police.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ottawa police sexual assault/child abuse unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5944, or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477.
- A violent Somali who stabbed a man in the face during a burglary is fighting deportation from Canada:
A Somali Muslim refugee with a violent record in Winnipeg will be in federal court Tuesday trying to head off his deportation to Somalia where he maintains his life would be in danger because of his family's history there, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada documents obtained by CBC News.
Mohamed Jama, 39, says his father was a general in the army of former Somalia strongman Mohamed Siad Barre, and was widely believed to have been killed after Barre was ousted in a coup in 1991.
He also says his brother was shot to death after the coup, and his family fled to the United States, after which he moved to Winnipeg.
When Jama came to Canada it was as a Geneva Conventions refugee, which normally would mean he could not be deported back to Somalia because of the unstable political situation there.
However, last December the immigration department ruled he was a danger to the public in Canada, a decision that effectively overrules the Geneva Conventions.
The ruling was based on the fact that in 2004, just a year after he arrived in Winnipeg, he was charged with a home invasion during which a man was stabbed in the face. Jama later pleaded guilty to the offence and was sent to prison.
- Police are appealing for information after a series of violent robberies in Ottawa:
OTTAWA — Seven violent fast-food restaurant robberies in Ottawa have police turning to the public for help.
Two to six suspects armed with knives, bats and sometimes a handgun would storm the eateries by their front and rear doors, and force employees to empty out cash registers and safes. The suspects would flee on foot.
Minor injuries were reported after some robberies though none required medical attention.
Police believe the robberies may be linked.
The robberies occurred from June 19 to July 8 at the following stores:
Domino’s Pizza, in the 500-block of Montreal Road on June 19.
Dairly Queen, in the 300-block of St. Laurent Boulevard on June 22.
Burger King, in the 200-block of Ogilvie Road on June 23.
Pizza Pizza, in the 1900-block of Montreal Road on June 26.
Pizza Pizza, in the 1300-block of Richmond Road on June 26.
Dairy Queen, in the 400-block of Terry Fox Drive on June 30.
Bobby’s Pizza, in the 1400-block of Ogilvie Road on July 8.
The suspects are described as male, black or middle-eastern and around 20 years old.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 613-236-1222 ext. 5116 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS)