Although the one-year window for the stayed murder charge against Lambertus (Bert) Westervelt expired on Wednesday (July 14), the BC Prosecution Service said that the passing will have no impact on the case of Arlene Westervelt’s death.
This past June 26, marked five years since Arlene died while canoeing with her husband Bert on Okanagan Lake. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but Arlene’s family alleges that Bert was responsible for her death.
Bert was charged with second-degree murder in April 2019, following an investigation into Arlene’s death. The Crown stayed that charge in July 2020 and did not provide a reason for the stay of proceedings, only stating that “new information” came to light, making conviction unlikely.
Prosecutors have a one-year window to restart the proceedings when a charge is stayed, and that deadline passed on Wednesday.
However, Dan McLaughlin, the communications counsel for BC Prosecution Service, said that the investigation into Arlene’s death remains open, adding that there is no limitation period on a charge of homicide.
“Should the investigation result in evidence, against anyone, that is sufficient to meet the charge assessment standard, Crown Counsel could lay a new information and proceed with a prosecution at that time,” said McLaughlin.
Referencing Section 579 of the Criminal Code, he said that stayed information is permitted to be recommenced within one year.
“It does not create a limitation date for a homicide charge and would not preclude the Crown from proceeding with a new charge at a later date should further investigation result in recommended charges,” he said.
Arlene’s family has been informed of this information, he added.
Capital News has reached out to Anthony Oliver, the family’s lawyer, for a comment. This story will be updated once more details are provided.