Wednesday, November 26th1.9°C

Kamloops travel advisory

Highland Drive hill to Juniper Ridge is flowing again and the vehicles that were stuck on Hillside Drive have also been cleared.
We would still like to remind motorists to use caution.

Kamloops RCMP are asking motorists to avoid two specific areas for the next while until we can get traffic cleared up.

Juniper Ridge hill is currently closed in both directions as a result of stuck traffic.

This closure should be for approximately 20 minutes until the hill can get sanded.

Hillside Drive between Walmart and Aberdeen Mall has multiple vehicles that cannot get up the hill. Please avoid this area for the next while as well.


Man admits to killing girlfriend

A British Columbia man charged with second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend admits he killed her, but says it was an accident that happened during a drug-fuelled fight.

"I didn't want anybody to die," Robert Balbar, 42, told a jury Monday as he took the stand in his own defence.

"The last thing I wanted was for anybody to die. I was just in a panic."

The body of 31-year-old Heather Hamill was found floating in the North Thompson River on Aug. 1, 2003. She had been bludgeoned to death with a blunt object.

Balbar told the jury he killed Hamill during a confrontation in late July of that year.

Balbar said he was having a quiet night at his apartment, where his nine-year-old son was sleeping over, when Hamill showed up and pushed her way inside. He said she was pacing around his apartment, taking swigs from a brown methadone bottle, when she eventually started throwing items around the suite.

"The more I tried to calm her down, the more violent she got," he said.

Balbar said Hamill eventually picked up a hunting knife and chased him around the apartment. He said he wrestled it away from her and hid it in a kitchen cupboard, out of her reach.

When he left the kitchen, Balbar said, he noticed the door to his son's bedroom was open and that Hamill had gone into the room.

"Soon as I walked in, I seen she had a machete," Balbar said.

"I immediately froze and put my hands up so she could see I had nothing with me. She had the thing pointed towards my son's head and she was poking it at him while she was looking at me. I just wanted her to calm down at that time."

Balbar said he then left the bedroom to grab a mechanic's hammer from the living room. He said Hamill followed him, eventually swinging the machete at him as soon as he picked up the hammer.

"She was trying to take my head off with it," he said. "I was doing my best to not get hit by the machete."

Balbar said Hamill eventually tripped, which is when he went on the offensive.

"When I had the opportunity, I just flailed the hammer as hard as I could and tried to knock her out," he said.

"I hit her a few times. She fell onto my legs and I hit her two more times with the hammer, then I went into the bedroom to check on my son, to make sure she didn't hit him on her way out."

Balbar said his son was still sleeping. When he went out to the living room to check on Hamill, he said, she was dead.

"I checked to see if she was breathing, I checked to see if she had a heartbeat — and, no, she didn't," he said through tears.

"I thought she was going to kill me. I'd never been in that situation before in my life. I was just in a panic trying to stop her. I was freaked out trying to make sure my son was OK."

Balbar said he didn't call police. Instead, he said he hid Hamill's body in a cooler so his son wouldn't have to see it.

"Then I just sat beside the bed with my son and waited until morning," he said.

Balbar wasn't arrested until more than four years after Hamill's death at the conclusion of a three-month RCMP undercover operation in December 2007.

Court has previously heard Balbar was lured into a fictitious criminal organization — actually comprised entirely of undercover RCMP officers — with promises of money and sex.

The elaborate undercover investigation culminated in Balbar's confession to the supposed leader of the fake gang.

The Canadian Press

Two charged in home invasion

Charges have now been laid against two people resulting from a home invasion in Kamloops eight months ago.

Back on March 16, RCMP responded to a report of a home invasion in the 700 block of York Avenue.

The occupants in the upstairs of the home were reportedly being held against their will while suspects searched the residence.

Police were called after the suspects left the home.

Through the investigation police determined the incident was drug related, although it was in relation to separate tenants in the residence.

The investigation has led to charges of Break and Enter into a Dwelling House and Forcible Confinement being sworn against Steven John Insua and Jason Joseph Robertson.

Both of the accused made court appearances today (Thursday).


Businesses need your votes

The 2015 Small Business BC Awards have been nominated and now they need your votes.

Of the 328 British Columbia-based small businesses nominated four are from the Kamloops area.

DesignAID, nominated for Best Concept, Innergy Corporate Yoga Inc., nominated for Best Company, Interior Freeze Athletics, nominated for Premier's People's Choice, and Wholesale Furniture Brokers, nominated for Premier's People's Choice.

“Small Business BC takes great pride in celebrating entrepreneurs and helping them to become more successful. While individually small, these businesses have a big reputation across Canada and around the world. I am delighted to see the vibrant business community in Kamloops entering the Small Business BC Awards to be recognized for their achievements and impacts both locally and globally,” says George Hunter, CEO of Small Business BC

Since its inception in 2003, the annual Small Business BC Awards have become one of the largest and most widely-recognized contests in British Columbia. Last year, 470 local small businesses were nominated, from 55 communities, across the province.

“It is encouraging to see so many nominations for the Small Business BC Awards already. With [time] left to submit nominations, we encourage everyone to get involved and support small businesses in their area. Small businesses are key economic drivers in British Columbia and across the country, which is why IBC has been proud to support this event for the past six years,” adds Bill Adams, VP with the Insurance Bureau of Canada

The awards acknowledge the contribution that over 400,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs in our province make to their local communities and the global economy.

In fact, 98 percent of businesses in BC are small businesses, and the Thompson-Okanagan is home to about 50,900 of them.

For the Kamloops businesses to prove that they are truly among the best in BC, nominated companies must gain as many votes as possible. Top 10 finalists will then submit an extended application to narrow down the competition.

The Top 5 will then face a Dragon’s Den-style panel of judges to pitch why they should be named the best in BC. Winners will receive the Premier’s Prize of $1,500 cash, a one-year all-access pass to Small Business BC education and resources, and one-on-one business mentorship opportunities with notable advisors from the award sponsors.

The public is encouraged to nominate and vote for their favourite small businesses, between October 1 and November 30, for a Small Business BC Award.

For more details on the Small Business BC Awards, the list of nominees and how to vote check out

Car vs. bus and pedestrian hit

Kamloops roads were kept busy Wednesday morning after back-to-back accidents left the city gridlocked.

The first incident involved a transit bus, when Kamloops RCMP were called to the intersection of 4th Avenue and St. Paul Street just after 8:30 a.m.

“The city bus was travelling southbound on 4th Avenue when it was struck by a passenger car travelling eastbound on St. Paul Street,” explains Cpl. Cheryl Bush.

She adds there were 23 passengers on board at the time of the collision.

“The bus driver and three of the passengers were taken to Royal Inland Hospital with minor injuries,” says Bush. “While the 47-year-old male driver of the car and his two passengers were also transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.”

The driver of the car was issued a ticket for failing to obey a stop sign.

Less than an hour later, cops were called to the scene of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Columbia Street.

“The driver of a vehicle, making a left hand turn, struck a 43-year-old female,” says Bush. “The pedestrian was transported to Royal Inland Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.”

The 74-year-old male driver was issued a ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian. 

Read more Kamloops articles


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