By Delon Shurtz on March 6, 2021.
A Lethbridge judge has ordered the lawyer representing a man charged in connection with a fatal car collision, to move things along following numerous delays since the accused was arrested more than a year ago.
Judge Erin Olsen told Calgary lawyer L. K. Ross that he needs to be prepared to take a step when he returns to court next week on behalf of Wesley Brian Phillips. Phillips is accused of crashing into a car Nov. 25, 2019, killing the driver, 66-year-old Betty Ment.
During a hearing Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court, Ross said it’s been difficult talking with his client, who is in custody at the Calgary Remand Centre and has been in the health unit for more than a month. Ross said Phillips was just released from the health unit and he was, after several attempts, finally able to arrange a telephone interview with his client for the following day.
Ross told court in December the COVID pandemic was preventing him from visiting the accused, which made it difficult to review disclosure on the case with his client. During a hearing Oct. 15 Ross was granted an adjournment to give him time to review disclosure, but when the matter returned to court Nov. 19, he requested more time and the matter was adjourned to December, then again into the new year.
Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox pointed out Phillips is responsible for many of the delays, and even disappeared for a time after being released on bail.
He added the Crown is anxious to move the matter along and is prepared to set dates for whatever hearing may be required next.
Phillips, 37, is charged with failure or refusal to comply with a breath demand resulting from a collision causing death, impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and failure to comply with a probation order.
The charges stem from a collision about 7:15 p.m. Nov. 25, 2019, when a white VW Jetta westbound on Highway 3 collided with a red Ford Escape that was stopped at a stop sign on 51 Avenue in the Town of Coalhurst where it intersects with the highway.
Ment, the lone occupant of the Ford, died in the collision.
The driver of the VW was taken to Chinook Regional Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Phillips was released from custody shortly after he was charged, then re-arrested in February on outstanding warrants from Airdrie where he faces charges of unlawfully being in a dwelling and numerous breaches.
He was released again in March on $3,000 no-cash bail and ordered to keep the peace, reside at an approved residence, abstain from alcohol and drugs, not possess any weapons, and obey a nightly curfew.
The accused disappeared again while on bail, but was re-arrested in September.
A warrant was issued for Phillips in June after authorities lost track of the accused because he was not living at the residence at which he had previously been ordered to reside.
One of Phillips’ bail conditions was he was to reside at the northside residence, but the owners, who had not been consulted beforehand, refused to let him stay and police were called to remove him.
Only a few hours later the accused was arrested following a disturbance at a city liquor store, but the bail office released him without dealing with his previous bail condition concerning his living arrangements.
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