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Man responsible for vehicle death of Shuswap woman sentenced to 4.5 years in jail

Dorian Bell of Malakwa will serve three more years after credit for time served
Dorian Bell appeared via video in BC Supreme Court in Salmon Arm on Oct. 14, 2022 when he was sentenced on three charges, one of them dangerous driving causing death stemming from a May 2021 incident near the Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous that resulted in the death of a Malakwa woman. (File photo)

The man responsible for the death of a 28-year-old Shuswap mother of four has been sentenced in BC Supreme Court in Salmon Arm.

Dorian Bell, 34, a former resident of Malakwa, was sentenced on Friday, Oct. 14 to four-and-a-half years in prison, less time already served, as well as a 10-year driving prohibition.

Bell had pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death, failing to stop when driving a vehicle being pursued by police, and driving a vehicle while prohibited.

It was on May 20, 2021, that Brittany Thompson, 28, who lived with her husband and four children in Malakwa, and whose home neighboured the Bell family’s, asked him for a ride to Salmon Arm so she could take her cat to the veterinarian.

On the way back about 4 p.m., with Thompson the lone passenger, the Salmon Arm RCMP attempted a traffic stop just east of the Canoe Forest Products office. Driving a 2003 silver Honda Civic with stolen licence plates, Bell took off. Travelling at an estimated 130 km/hr, he passed a transport truck on a double solid line on a blind corner, the court heard on June 10. He passed another vehicle on the right-hand shoulder of Highway 1, half in the ditch. After two kilometres the officer pulled over and radioed other officers to watch for the vehicle.

Just east of the Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous, police pulled a spike belt across the road. Bell swerved to avoid it. The vehicle rolled and then tumbled down a steep embankment. Brittany Thompson died at the scene. Bell was seriously injured and flown by air ambulance to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. An analysis of his blood revealed THC from cannabis as well as methamphetamine and ketamine.

Read more: Details of high speed flight to Sicamous ending in death heard in Salmon Arm court

On the first count, dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death, Justice Sheri Ann Donegan sentenced Bell, who appeared via video conferencing from the Kamloops correctional centre, to four-and-a-half years in jail, equal to 1,643 days.

Less his pre-sentence time, counted at time-and-a-half, and the addition of days left to serve from a conviction prior to the May 20 crash, Bell’s remaining time in prison was calculated at 1,109 days, or three years.

On count 2, failing to stop when driving a vehicle being pursued by police, he was sentenced to one year in prison, and on count 4, driving a vehicle while prohibited, he was sentenced to 45 days in prison.

All three sentences will be served at the same time, so his remaining time in prison is three years.

Justice Sheri Ann Donegan said she was satisfied with the 4.5-year joint sentence submission that had been provided June 10, 2022 by Crown counsel Alison Buchanan and defence counsel Justin Dosanjh.

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

Prior to pronouncing sentence, she referred to victim impact statements from Brittany’s sister and her husband, as well as a poem from her eldest child.

“These statements, as well as the Crown’s submissions, have helped me understand the devastating impact of these offences on Ms. Thompson’s family… She was a daughter, a mother, a sister, a wife and a friend. She was a person who had her whole life ahead of her. Her senseless and heartbreaking death has created an immeasurable void and tremendous grief for all those who knew her. It is clear that the loss of Ms. Thompson has had, and will continue to have, profound, traumatic and lasting effect on her family and her friends. Mr. Bell will have to live with this knowledge, the knowledge of all the pain he has caused others, for the rest of his life.”

Donegan said Bell has a lengthy criminal history that encompasses convictions in 2020, which include dangerous operation of a conveyance and operating a conveyance while prohibited. She said Bell was on probation at the time of the May 2021 offences.

She spoke of Bell’s circumstances, such as limited education, a difficult and abusive upbringing, substance misuse difficulties and what is believed to be a brain injury that affects his memory and presents him with intellectual challenges. He has been working with the Kamloops Brain Injury Society and engaged in other programming while in custody. He expressed his desire and commitment to participate in more programs and services.

“Mr. Bell is, I accept, truly remorseful for what he has done. He recognizes his actions took the life of a good person and his friend. Her recognizes that so many lives have been profoundly impacted.”

Read more: Police chase from Sicamous to Revelstoke ends in arrest after officers threatened
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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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