June 18th, 2024

Suspect in impaired driving death may be released from custody

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 17, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A southern Alberta man charged in relation to a drunk driving death three years ago is hoping to make bail when he returns to court today.

Wesley Brian Phillips had hoped to be released from remand custody Wednesday following a bail hearing in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench. However, after listening to arguments from the Crown prosecutor and defence lawyer, the judge adjourned her decision for a day.

Evidence provided during the hearing is subject to a publication ban and cannot be reported.

Phillips, who elected in March 2021 to be tried by a judge and jury in Court of King’s Bench, faces charges of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, failure to provide a breath sample following an accident causing death, and breach of probation, stemming from a fatal car collision on Nov. 25, 2019.

At about 7:15 p.m. 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. Betty Ment, 66, who was 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 had been detained following two previous bail hearings, the first in provincial court in February when Judge Kristin Ailsby refused to release him even though the accused’s sister was prepared to be surety and post $1,000 bail.

Phillips was again denied bail following a detention review in June in Court of King’s Bench.

Wednesday’s bail hearing was to determine whether the accused’s circumstances have changed enough to warrant his release before he stands trial in January and February.

Phillips was released from custody shortly after he was charged in 2019, then re-arrested the following February on outstanding warrants from Airdrie. He was released again a month later on several conditions, including he live at a specific residence.

A warrant was issued for Phillips the following June after the Crown lost track of the accused because he was not living at the residence at which he had previously been ordered to reside. 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 the liquor store, but the bail office released him without dealing with his previous bail condition concerning his living arrangements.

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