Stranded far from home, robbery accused called police on himself

A Windsor man caught stranded outside a Sarnia coffee shop on a frigid January night saw Sarnia police officers pull into the parking lot.

But Cody Farrugia, who was out past his court-ordered curfew, didn’t run away or hide. Instead he confessed.

“I wasn’t caught or anything. I called them on myself because I knew I was in the wrong,” Farrugia said over Zoom from the Sarnia Jail to a city courtroom. “And I was cold, so I just wanted a place to be warm.”
Farrugia, 23, is facing charges in his hometown related to a convenience-store robbery, but was released on a recognizance as he awaits trial. It included a condition he stays home every night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless there is a medical emergency.

Farrugia came to Sarnia with some friends on Jan. 13, but wound up stranded more than 100 kilometers from home. Aside from being uncomfortably cold, there was no medical emergency and no legitimate reason for Farrugia to be outside his house when police found him at the Confederation Street Tim Hortons around 1 a.m. the next morning.

“He told the officers right away who he was and that he was out past his curfew, was hoping to see if they could help him get back to Windsor,” defense lawyer Patricia Brown said. “That didn’t happen. He was arrested instead.”

Farrugia has been in jail since.

“I shouldn’t have never left Windsor in the first place,” he said to Justice Anne McFadyen. “That was foolish of me to do.”

Farrugia, about to turn 24, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to comply with a release order. It was his first breach, but he did have an “unenviable” criminal record featuring three armed-robbery convictions from 2018 and spent a “significant” amount of time in jail, the court heard.

The then-20-year-old was initially facing six counts of robbery and six counts of wearing a mask or disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence linked to multiple knife-wielding incidents at convenience stores in Windsor’s east end.

As for the curfew coffee shop conviction, the Crown asked for 30 to 60 days in jail, less pre-sentence custody. Brown argued her client should be in a time-served position after getting credit for 27 days in pre-sentence custody.

“He should not have been in the circumstances that he was in. He’s certainly learned his lesson,” she said.

McFadyen said time-served was appropriate. He was ordered to be released from the Sarnia Jail unless there was a remand for his arrest in Windsor.

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A Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court would set ‘amazing example’ for Canada

More diversity needed in our judicial system, say Windsor lawyers

Nominating a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court would have positive impacts on this side of the border, according to advocates and Black women in the legal profession in Windsor.

“Having a Black woman on the Supreme Court in the United States of America would absolutely set an amazing example for a lot of women and a lot of young girls here in Canada,” said Gemma Grey-Hall, board member for Moving Black Women Forward, an advocacy group.

U.S. President Joe Biden is poised to nominate a Black woman to the highest court in the land, a promise he made during his campaign. She would replace outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer.

“I think it will have a great effect, I think it’s a positive step in the right direction,” said defence lawyer Patricia Brown.

Brown points to the retirements of justices Lloyd Dean and Micheline Rawlins, the only justices of colour to sit on the bench locally, as examples of a need to expedite moves toward more diversity.

“I think this particular moment in American history will definitely do something inspirational here in Canada and hopefully inspire not only just young men and women in our country, but also our government officials and members of Parliament that will recognize that this is a step that we should be moving in as well,” said Brown.

Lawyer Linda McCurdy agrees this would be a pivotal step in Black history — especially notable during Black History Month — but she said moves to make our courts more diverse should be happening regardless of what happens in the states.

“Judges here are appointed by the government, so we need to make sure that there’s people in the positions that make those decisions that understand that diversity is extremely important in our courts,” said McCurdy.

McCurdy said a more diverse Supreme Court in Canada is necessary to reflect the make up of the population of Canada.
Windsor defence lawyer Patricia Brown says she hopes the U.S. appointing a Black woman to the Supreme Court will inspire young people, as well as the Canadian government. 0:58

The Hon. Mahmud Jamal is a recent appointee to the Supreme Court of Canada and the first person of colour.

When Brown appeared before the Supreme Court in 2019 she found it “daunting” that no one who is a person of colour was on the bench.

“And I don’t think it’s lost on the members of the judiciary as well,” she said. “I do think that it’s something that the members of the bench have recognized to be an issue in our government and I think in our province our Attorney General is hopefully taking steps a more diverse bench,” said Brown.

“More needs to be done.”

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