Wrist broken during arrest

What was supposed to be a routine sentencing for a series of property offences was derailed by revelations that the RCMP may have broken the accused’s wrist while they were arresting him.

Simon Bell, 37, was before Judge Michelle Daneliuk Thursday in Penticton pleading guilty to multiple counts of possession of stolen property, fraud, flight from police and possession of cocaine following his arrest last month.

Bell was arrested in Oliver on Nov. 28 in connection with a rash of vehicle thefts in the area, and defence lawyer Norm Yates said RCMP were “very rough” with him.

“In his view they were unnecessarily physical and unnecessarily rough with him,” Yates said, alleging Bell’s wrist was shattered while he was taken into custody.

“He complained to them after he was taken into custody about his injured wrist and was not taken seriously,” he said, adding he wasn’t taken to the Oliver hospital until “several days later.”

Bell ended up being sedated and transferred to Penticton Regional Hospital where he had surgery that required bones to be rebroken.

Judge Daneliuk was taken aback by the defence's account of the arrest, as she had just heard Crown prosecutor Kurt Froehlich read from a police report that stated Bell was taken right to hospital.

“This is a very serious injury that’s been sustained, and if this was caused by the RCMP — first of all, I’m concerned about the RCMP writing in their report that he had an injury and that he was taken to the hospital,” she said. “This is very serious.”

Bell was appearing via video link from Okanagan Correctional Centre, with a cast on his wrist.

The court previously heard that Bell was a heavy equipment operator capable of making six figures, and Daneliuk was worried about what the injury could do to his future work prospects.

“If that’s true,” Froehlich said, mulling if he would be required to call evidence about arrest, “the ramifications of an allegation like that against the police are quite serious.”

Daneliuk declared that she wanted “more information” about the arrest before moving forward with sentencing, recommending the lawyers pull hospital records to determine the validity of the claims that the police withheld medical treatment from Bell.

The Crown and defence previously agreed on a 254 day jail term for Bell regardless, so Daneliuk noted it wouldn’t be doing Bell any harm to delay sentencing for a few weeks while information was gathered.

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