Police cited in Harold Backer’s rights breach claims

A court document alleging Harold Backer’s charter rights were violated contains detailed allegations against Victoria police officers, the provincial court heard Wednesday.

The Times Colonist and other media outlets are seeking access to the document filed by Backer’s defence lawyer, Joven Narwal, on Sept. 27.

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On Wednesday, Victoria provincial court Judge Adrian Brooks listened to submissions from the Crown, the defence and a media lawyer on scheduling a time to hear the media application.

Both the Crown and defence opposed the media application, citing issues of trial fairness.

Backer, a former Olympic rower and mutual fund salesman, disappeared on Nov. 3, 2015, after telling his wife he was going for a cycle on the Galloping Goose trail. Police investigating the disappearance recovered surveillance footage showing a cyclist fitting Backer’s description getting off the Coho ferry in Port Angeles, Washington.

Some believed he might have been lost or injured, but the search took on a different tone when investment clients, including family members, received letters from him, expressing remorse and explaining he had lost their investments.

Backer did not resurface until April 2017, when he turned himself in to police in Victoria.

He has been charged and pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000.

At the Sept. 27 appearance, Narwal elected that his client be tried in provincial court. He also filed the notice of application alleging Backer’s charter rights were breached a number of times during the investigation that led to his arrest.

Narwal has not said where or when the alleged breaches took place.

“My charter notice does name specific police officers and one thought that crossed my mind was whether the Victoria Police Department has notice of this,” Narwal said.

He would not comment on whether Backer will face more charges.

Commercial crime special prosecutor John Neal also did not comment on whether Backer could face more charges, saying only that the investigation is continuing.

Neal did say that neither the police nor the prosecution know where Backer went after he cycled off the ferry in Port Angeles.

Pre-trial motions are scheduled to be heard in June, July and August, with the trial following in September 2018.

It’s not known when the media application will be heard.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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