The NWT Supreme Court has dismissed a former Yellowknife taxi driver’s appeal on assault charges. 

In 2018, Matar Mahamed Mahamud was convicted of assault causing bodily harm after one of his taxi passengers was left with two black eyes and a bloody nose. 

Mahamud pleaded not guilty to the initial charge and has maintained his innocence throughout the court proceedings. In November he appeared before Justice Shannon Smallwood to appeal the conviction.  

An appeal from a Yellowknife taxi driver to have his assault conviction overturned was dismissed Monday in the NWT Supreme court. Natalie Pressman/NNSL photo

Following trial, Judge Garth Malakoe sentenced him to eight months of house arrest followed by 12 months of probation.

Mahamud claimed that Malakoe’s sentence was unreasonable and that the verdict is not supported by evidence. 

The incident took place in 2017 when Mahamud picked up a passenger from the Kilt and Castle pub to drop him off at Ciara Manor. 

When the cab arrived at the apartment building, a dispute over payment erupted between the driver and passenger. The man’s only form of payment was debit, which Mahamud was not able to accept.  

The victim told the court that he suggested they go to an ATM or that Mahamud return to collect payment the next day but that Mahamud refused, repeating “you have to pay me now.” 

Finally the passenger told Mahamud, “you can see me tomorrow or not, but I am getting out of the cab now.” When he exited the taxi, Mahamud got out as well and a physical altercation ensued. 

The victim, and another Ciara Manor resident who witnessed the attack, testified that Mahamud threw the passenger to the ground, punched him three times, and then drove away in his taxi. 

The witness said she was not able to open her phone camera in time to take a photo of the cab but that she could hear the man on the ground, crying, call the RCMP. 

In his November appeal, Mahamud, representing himself, told the court that the passenger and the witness has “talked together,” and were lying about the events of the night in question. With the help of a Sudanese interpreter, he told the court that “his life has been shattered” by the conviction as he can no longer drive a taxi in Yellowknife. 

In rendering her decision Monday, Smallwood said “there is no basis on which to question the trial judge’s conclusions.”

Mahamud asserted that other residents of the building should be questioned for their accounts of the night. Smallwood however, told the court that there is no evidence that other witnesses would have observed something that would change the decision. “The suggestion is strictly speculative,” she said. 

Smallwood noted that in rendering his decision after trial, Malakoe said Mahamud’s version of events did not explain the victim’s injuries. 

He said at the time that the victim was vulnerable because he was intoxicated and unable to defend himself. He also said that Mahamud had a duty to provide a safe ride to his taxi passenger and had no reason to attack the victim.

She said her function in assessing Mahamud’s appeal is not to reweigh evidence, but to review the trial judge’s decision. 

“In my view there is sufficient evidence to support the trial judge’s conclusions,” she said. 

Mahamud was not in attendance for Monday’s decision on his appeal. It was noted that he was out of the country and that he was unresponsive to attempts to contact him to re-schedule based on his travel itinerary. A written copy of the decision will be provided to him.

Natalie Pressman

Reporting courts and cops and general news, Natalie started with NNSL Media in 2020. Before moving to Yellowknife, Natalie worked as a community radio trainer in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First...

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