An N.W.T. judge has dismissed Matar Mahamed Mahamud's appeal of his conviction for attacking a passenger in his cab in July of 2017.
In his 2018 trial, a witness said she saw Mahamud punch the passenger in the face three times while he was lying on the ground in front of the Ciara Manor apartment building. The passenger, who had been at the Kilt and Castle bar earlier that night, walked away with two black eyes.
Mahamud was convicted of assault causing bodily harm and sentenced to eight months of house arrest and one year probation.
Mahamud was not present in court or by videolink during the decision Monday. He had earlier notified the court he would be out of the country, but did not respond to follow-up questions about his whereabouts.
No lawyer appeared on his behalf.
In a one-page document written in imperfect English and filed with the court, Mahamud said the case was based on one witness who told "her own story." He alleged the RCMP "never bothered" to approach other potential witnesses or view surveillance video outside the apartment building where the incident occurred.
Mahamud said the police didn't ask him any questions before he was arrested and that they hadn't considered his clean record or the fact he was himself a victim of a previous assault by a passenger.
He said his life "was shattered" by the incident.
N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Shannon Smallwood delivered her decision despite Mahamud's absence on Monday, saying a transcript would be forwarded to him. She described his allegations as "baseless."
She said the issue for her to decide was whether the verdict was reasonable, given the evidence actually presented at trial.
Smallwood said there was no evidence that other witnesses would have provided different evidence, and said the suggestion they would was "speculative." She said the trial judge was best positioned to assess the credibility of the witness, and said the judge gave good reasons for the decision.
As for the lack of surveillance video and Mahamud's own clean record and past assault (against him), Smallwood said the court acknowledged these facts at trial.
Not 'demonstrably unfit'
Mahamud also claimed his sentence was unreasonable.
Smallwood dismissed that claim, after noting that an appeal judge will only intervene if the original sentence is "demonstrably unfit."
She found the trial judge was aware that the sentence imposed would spell the end of Mahamud's taxi driving career. She also noted that the victim, who had been drinking, was vulnerable and Mahamud, as taxi driver, was in a position of trust.
In the fall of 2018, Mahamud appealed to Yellowknife City Council to ask that they reinstate his chauffeur's permit, noting that it's his livelihood.
Council, however, declined to do so, noting that Mahamud had failed to notify them of his conviction earlier, as required by a city bylaw. A city lawyer called him "ungovernable."