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Man charged in crash that caused death of Malakwa woman changes plea to not guilty

Dorian Bell, 32, was not sentenced in Salmon Arm court but instead will undergo preliminary inquiry
The next appearance in Salmon Arm court for Dorian Bell, 32, charged with dangerous driving causing death in a May 2021 crash in Sicamous, will be Feb. 1, 2022. (File photo)

A man facing five charges in connection with the 2021 death of a Malakwa woman in a vehicle crash changed his mind regarding a guilty plea.

Although a preliminary hearing was originally scheduled, Salmon Arm court heard Jan. 25 that the accused, Dorian Bell, had decided a few weeks previous he wanted to plead guilty. The decision meant sentencing could go ahead on Jan. 25.

However, defence lawyer Ian McTavish told the court Bell had changed his mind a few days prior and wanted to plead not guilty. He noted Bell has trouble making up his mind due to the head injury he sustained in the vehicle incident.

McTavish said Bell had received assistance from another lawyer so he would withdraw his services.

Judge Dennis Morgan said the change of plea would leave the family of the victim, Brittany Thompson, with ongoing uncertainty, but he said Bell would need time to hire a new lawyer or contact legal aid. McTavish said he could help explain the situation to Bell.

Bell, 32, was appearing in Salmon Arm court via video. After discussions it was decided the next appearance would be set for Feb. 1.

Bell faces five counts: dangerous driving causing death, flight from police, impaired driving, driving while licence suspended and driving while prohibited.

The vehicle crash, which resulted in the death of 28-year-old Thompson, the mother of four children, occurred on May 20, 2021 near the Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous. It was investigated by the police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO).

Police told the IIO that officers had attempted to conduct a traffic stop of a light grey Honda Civic about 4 p.m. in Canoe, near Salmon Arm, without success.

At approximately 4:30 pm, police again attempted to bring the vehicle to a stop on Highway 1 in Sicamous. The Honda reportedly left the road and subsequently came to rest nearby.

Medical assistance was provided, but Thompson, the passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene. Bell was taken to hospital by ambulance for treatment of serious injuries.

The IIO found no offence had been committed by police officers.

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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