VICTORIA — An investment dealer and former Olympic rower who went missing for nearly 18 months has pleaded not guilty to two fraud charges.
Harold Backer was not in B.C. provincial court during a hearing Wednesday in Victoria, but his lawyer entered the not guilty plea on his client’s behalf.
Backer has elected to be tried by judge alone in a trial that is expected to last up to two weeks.
He was charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 after he turned up at the Victoria Police Department’s headquarters on April 13.
The 54-year-old man disappeared after he told his family he was going for bike ride on Nov. 3, 2015, and Crown prosecutor John Neal said outside court he doesn’t know where Backer was during those months.
He said Backer has not told the Crown or police where he went.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 17 to fix a trial date.
Neal said Backer’s case remains an ongoing investigation.
Defence lawyer Joven Narwal filed notices that he will make constitutional arguments in court.
“We are alleging that in the context of the investigation there are charter breaches of his constitutional rights, and that may very well have an impact on the scope of the trial that may unfold,” Narwal said outside court.
The notices were not immediately available to the public.
Backer was on the Canadian rowing team in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games.
After his disappearance, police in Port Angeles, Wash., said an officer who viewed video from a street security camera noted a man fitting Backer’s description was aboard a ferry from Victoria, a 90-minute trip away.
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