Family of Lake Country nurse who drowned in 2016 incident turns national focus to case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Family of Lake Country nurse who drowned in 2016 incident turns national focus to case

FILE. Arlene Westervelt, 56, died in 2016.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Le Necrologue
January 23, 2021 - 3:00 PM

The family of the Lake Country woman who died in a suspicious 2016 drowning, is pushing forward with their effort to find out why the criminal case against her ex-husband has stalled.

Bert Westervelt was charged April 5, 2019, with the second-degree murder of Arlene and a preliminary hearing was set for, Sept. 14, 2020.  Witnesses had already received subpoenas but weeks before the case was to start,  Crown counsel said it planned to exercise its authority to stay the charge on the basis of “new information” which the Crown refused to disclose. 

"We need answers,” Debbie Hennig, Arlene's sister said at the time. “Arlene was a beautiful person who lost her life under very suspicious circumstances. We need to know how and why she died. And we need to know how it is possible that a man charged with intentionally murdering our sister is not required to stand trial?”

Now the family’s lawyer Anthony Oliver, a former crown prosecutor, is asking that five points of interest be taken up by B.C.'s Attorney General David Eby.

In particular, they want to have information on what evidence changed between 2019, when charges were approved against Arlene's husband Bert Westervelt, and 2020, when charges were stayed.

They want to see those evidentiary concerns, if any, to the RCMP and to advise the investigating body what, if any, further evidence they can produce that will justify recommencement of the prosecution.

They also Crown to solicit and retain the expertise of a forensic pathologist should further medical assessment, review or re-examination be capable of assisting the prosecution.

There's also a push to confirm  RCMP internal allegations against a former officer, who now works for BC Justice, are known by the Crown and have been sufficiently reviewed for potential evidence against Westervelt.

Confirmation that the Attorney General has asked the applicable investigative body to obtain and assess the RCMP allegations against the former RCMP officer for potential criminal liability and prosecution, is also being sought.

Some of these issues will be explored tonight, Jan. 23, in CTV’s W5. It will be airing an in-depth documentary into the alleged murder of  Westervelt, a 56-year-old Lake Country woman who family members describe as "an experienced canoeist, a member of the rowing team" who was a strong swimmer and "safety fanatic."

Hennig has spearheaded this campaign, remains hopeful that the BC Attorney General will review the prosecution’s handling of this murder case before the one-year stay period expires.

Anyone with information is requested to contact Kelowna RCMP at 1-877-987-8477

Media contact:  Deborah Johnston 780-466-6055

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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