June 18th, 2024

Trial cancelled for Coalhurst intersection fatality

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 11, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A three-week judge and jury trial set to begin this month for a southern Alberta man charged in relation to a drunk driving death three years ago, has been cancelled.

Wesley Brian Phillips was set to stand trial Jan. 30-Feb. 17 on 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. That trial, however, was cancelled Monday in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench, after the judge was told Lethbridge lawyer Greg White was unavailable on the scheduled dates, and he would need more time to prepare for the trial.

White is new to the case after Calgary lawyer Kim Ross got off the record during a brief court hearing Dec. 12, and said there had been a breakdown in the solicitor-client relationship.

Lethbridge lawyer Marcus Mueller, acting as agent for White, said the case is complex and the accused understands the adjournment will create a delay of several months.

Although the Crown opposed the adjournment, Madam Justice Johnna Kubik granted the application and agreed White will need additional time to prepare for the trial. The matter is scheduled to return to court Feb. 13 to set dates for a new trial.

Phillips’ charges stem from a fatal car collision Nov. 25, 2019. Police reported that 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, who is in custody at the Medicine Hat Remand Centre, was released from remand custody shortly after he was charged, but was re-arrested and released several times afterward until last February in provincial court when he was refused bail. Phillips was again denied bail following a detention review in Court of King’s Bench last June, and again in November.

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Southern Albertan

The dangerous Coalhurst and Kipp intersections continue. Perhaps, because of poor long range planning and the inability to build overpasses in the area, it’s time to decrease the speed as is done by Pincher station, or, create traffic circles as was done at the Nobleford intersection. The Granum intersection continues to be a problem as well.