B.C. investment adviser seeks to exclude evidence from fraud trial

The lawyer for a Victoria investment dealer and former Olympic rower charged with fraud is seeking to exclude wide swaths of evidence from his trial, arguing it was improperly seized.

Harold Backer was charged with fraud after going missing for nearly 18 months

Harold Backer went missing on Nov. 3, 2015. (Victoria Police Department )

The lawyer for a Victoria investment dealer and former Olympic rower charged with fraud is seeking to exclude wide swaths of evidence from his trial, arguing it was improperly seized.

Harold Backer's defence team filed an application in B.C. provincial court last fall, arguing that his Charter rights were violated by police through numerous searches and seizures of evidence, and that there were issues with his arrest.

Backer was charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 last April, when he turned himself in to Victoria police nearly 18 months after going missing from his home in Mill Bay.

He pleaded not guilty to those charges on Sept. 27, the same day his lawyers filed the notice of a constitutional challenge to a series of search warrants and production orders. That document was made public Monday by Judge Adrian Brooks in response to an application from a number of media organizations, including CBC News.

Backer competed in rowing in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games. (Finding Harold Backer/Facebook)

According to the notice, defence lawyer Joven Narwal intends to argue that Backer's rights were violated during four warrantless searches that took place in early November 2015, just a few days after he went missing. The evidence seized during those searches include a cellphone, iPad, computer towers and credit card statements.

He'll also argue that police did not have reasonable grounds to obtain another four search warrants or six production orders for Backer's financial data.

The legal document goes on to allege that investigators failed to obtain the necessary paperwork to continue detaining evidence seized in one of the searches, and that Backer was not promptly informed of the reasons for his arrest.

Those arguments are scheduled to be heard later this spring.

Mystery disappearance

Backer's disappearance on Nov. 3, 2015, was the source of much speculation after it was revealed that some of his clients had received letters from the missing man, explaining he had lost their investments.

On the day he vanished, he told his wife he was going for a bike ride. The last sign of Backer was surveillance footage of a similar-looking cyclist getting off the Coho ferry in Port Angeles, Wash.

Backer turned up at the Victoria Police Department's headquarters 528 days after disappearing and was arrested. Police told reporters at the time that investigators had begun probing Backer's activities shortly after he vanished.

A lawsuit filed last year by six investors alleges Backer was running a Ponzi scheme. None of the allegations in the civil claim has been proven in court.