Forensic officer testifies at former Halifax taxi driver's sexual assault trial

The high-profile retrial of a former Halifax taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated female passenger is underway.

Bassam Al-Rawi faces a charge of sexual assault in a May 2015 incident, after an acquittal was overturned last January by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

The Crown's first witness is Det. Const. Marshall Hewitt, who worked in the Halifax police forensic identification section at the time of the alleged sexual assault.

Hewitt testified in Halifax provincial court that he photographed a handcuffed Al-Rawi at a police station in the early hours of May 23, 2015, and took DNA swabs of his hands, mouth and genitals.

He told Judge Ann Marie Simmons he also noticed that his jeans were unbuttoned.

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

Judge Gregory 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.