How Victoria police tracked a fugitive to France

Victoria police detectives tracked down a Canadian fugitive hiding in France by using tracking software and search warrants.

“Without the amazing efforts from our community partners here on Vancouver Island as well as in France, Mr. Normandin would still be at large,” said Det. Sgt. Shawn Robson of efforts to find Sebastien Normandin, 49, who fled to France two years ago after being charged with two counts of attempted murder.

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Normandin, who is from Quebec, was escorted back to Canada on Friday by three Victoria police detectives. He had been detained in France since September 2018.

Victoria police Const. Matt Rutherford said police did not want to describe the specific techniques used to locate the fugitive, but other agencies, including the Regional Domestic Violence Unit, were involved.

“We have to write a production order for user information and there are various other warrants we can use to track people through those means.

Whether it was IP addresses specifically for this, I’m not sure, but any time we get information from a telecom provider or social-media company, we have to request it through a warrant.”

Normandin remained active on Facebook and Twitter after he jumped bail.

On Monday, the former university instructor, who has a PhD from McGill University, appeared in Victoria provincial court. His next appearance is scheduled for Nov. 18.

Normandin co-operated with the French authorities who arrested him, said Rutherford. Then local investigators began the lengthy process of working with Interpol, the Department of Justice and an RCMP officer stationed in France to secure Normandin’s extradition back to Canada to stand trial.

The extradition process took 12 months and involved court proceedings in France and authorization from the French prime minister.

Normandin was initially arrested on Dec. 27, 2016, after police were called to Gillespie Place in the Rockland neighbourhood of Victoria, where it’s alleged he used his vehicle to ram the parked car of his former girlfriend and her boyfriend.

Normandin faces charges including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, criminal harassment and assault of his ex-girlfriend.

On Monday, Crown prosecutor Jess Patterson asked the judge to renew Normandin’s no-contact order with his two alleged victims.

After his initial arrest in December 2016, Normandin remained in custody until May 30, 2017. A provincial court judge agreed to release him on $5,000 bail with the condition that he fly to Montreal to live there. He was not required to surrender his passport.

Initially, Normandin was required to live at a specific address in Montreal and to report to police in person every day, but starting in July 2017, Normandin was allowed to report in person twice a week and by phone the remaining five days.

In mid-October 2017, a Montreal psychologist treating Normandin as part of his bail conditions notified the Saanich bail supervisor that Normandin had missed an appointment.

The bail supervisor contacted Montreal police, who checked their logbook and found he had not signed in since Oct. 15.

Police obtained a still photograph of Normandin going through customs at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Oct. 21, 2017, as he boarded a flight to England. He went to France the day he arrived in England.

Interpol began searching for him, posting his photograph and physical details on their “red notice” list, which asks police around the world to locate and arrest an individual, and flags them for border officials. A red notice also allows countries to request and share critical information linked to an investigation.

“This has been a very lengthy process and I’m really proud of our entire team,” Robson said.

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