A bail hearing was held Friday for Noel Harder, a former police informant who found himself once again on the wrong side of the law.
A Saskatoon courtroom heard there is no disputing the fact that Harder had a loaded handgun in his possession when he was arrested on Sept. 25, but the real question, argued defence, is why his client was armed.
“If I was in Mr. Harder’s situation – you arm yourself or you risk getting yourself killed,” said Linh Pham, Harder’s lawyer.
Wherever Harder goes, so too does the constant threat of danger, Pham argued in court, after the 39-year-old played a vital role in Project Forseti, a massive series of police raids that resulted in the recovery of eight million dollars-worth of drugs, hundreds of guns and 20 convictions.
Pham said his client feared for his life and family after the RCMP failed to protect him. Harder who has launched a lawsuit against the Mounties, only returned to the area when his identity was leaked while in hiding.
“My understanding is the accused was advised to arm himself by high-ranking Saskatoon police officers,” Pham said.
“They actually went as far as encouraging him to apply for his gun licence and went as far as encouraging him to apply for a concealed carry licence.”
The defence said Harder was under the mistaken belief his firearm prohibition had expired after nearly 15 years of no run-ins with the law.
Harder also got the feeling that day when he went to purchase a used TV that it was a set-up and he would be kidnapped, so he armed himself with the gun.
Pham argued for his client to be released on $5,000 cash bail and obey a number of conditions including electronic monitoring as well as not possessing any weapons.
The Crown, on the other hand, was opposed to Harder’s release and detailed the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
At around 5:30 p.m. CT on Sept. 25, police received a report that a man sitting in his vehicle having a beer with a handgun on his lap.
Saskatoon police located the vehicle near the intersection of Powe Street and Rayner Avenue. The officer activated her lights but waited for back-up since there were reports of a gun.
According to the Crown, Harder was co-operative when he was asked to turn the vehicle off and exit with his hands up. However, he became verbally aggressive, resisted arrest and a number of times said to police, ‘Do you know who I am?’
He was safely cuffed and police said a of the vehicle police uncovered the handgun, along with ammunition, an airsoft pistol, bear spray and an axe. Harder also had a knife on him, a single pill of fentanyl along with over $1,000 in cash.
He now faces 26 weapons-related charges, possession of fentanyl and breach of probation.
The Crown also argued there is no reason for a person to be in possession of a loaded handgun with a bullet in the chamber unless they were prepared to use it. Harder’s criminal history, although not lengthy, is serious and he’s a risk to reoffend.
The Crown noted that if time in the penitentiary years ago didn’t set him straight, he wasn’t confident conditions wouldn’t either.
Harder who has been in remand since his arrest, has spent much of his time in segregation away from others in custody.
A decision on this matter will be made Oct. 16 after the judge said she would need more time to review all the material presented in court.
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