Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Mysterious Disappearance of Gregory James Cyr

Mr. Gregory James Cyr disappeared.

Mr. Cyr owned a house in Victoria. In October 2003, he told his ex-wife, Miriam Byrne, that he had a meeting in Vancouver. When he met his girlfriend before the meeting, he was frightened, like “a child about to be left alone.” No one heard from him again. Not his ex-wife; not his girlfriend; nor his mother. He had a close and loving relationship with his young son, but has not tried to see him. He has not attempted to deal with his $1.5 million house.

Mr. Cyr had a life insurance policy with Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, in which he designated Ms. Byrne as the beneficiary. Ms. Byrne suspects that he is dead, and she applied for the life insurance proceeds. But, the insurance company won’t pay. Ms. Byrne has to prove that Mr. Cyr has died.

Ms. Byrne applied to court for an order under section 3 of the Survivorship and Presumption of Death Act, RSBC 1996, c.444, declaring that Mr. Cyr is presumed dead. To succeed, she was required to satisfy the court of three things:
1. Mr. Cyr has been absent and not heard of or from by her, or to her knowledge by any other person, since a day named;
2. She has no reason to believe that Mr. Cyr is living; and
3. Reasonable grounds exist for supposing that Mr. Cyr is dead.

She had to prove on the evidence that it was more likely than not that Mr. Cyr died.

There was evidence that Mr. Cyr was involved in drug trafficking.

The Vancouver Police were investigating Mr. Cyr’s disappearance. According to an affidavit from the Sergeant responsible for the investigation,

As the investigation progressed two theories emerged as to Cyr's whereabouts. The first was that he had lived a lavish lifestyle and had been able to hide away millions of dollars in cash. When he felt that his life was possibly in danger by his criminal associates, he fled to protect himself as he had done in the past. No information has been discovered to prove, or disprove, this theory. With Cyr's past history of disappearing and resurfacing under a new name, the Vancouver Police must consider this a possibility in this case.

The other theory is that Cyr has been murdered by his criminal associates. Rumours of Cyr's drug use and debt load are the reasons given as to why he was possibly murdered. To date no evidence has been discovered to substantiate this theory. The only possible corroborating information is from an unproven, untested, informant who stated that Cyr's business associates advised him that Cyr wouldn't be 'bothering' them any longer. The meaning of this phrase is open to speculation. This could mean that Cyr has disappeared again to start a new life or that he has been the victim of foul play.

Mr. Justice Macaulay in Re Cyr, 2006 BCSC 1523, supplementary reasons at 2006 BCSC 1813, was unable to find that it was more likely than not that Mr. Cyr died. He found the evidence equally consistent with the theory that Mr. Cyr had disappeared because he knew that his life was in danger. He dismissed Ms. Byrne’s application for the life insurance benefits.

If Mr. Cyr is not heard from in another four years (seven years from the date of his disappearance), then at common law, he will be presumed to have died.

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