April 21, 2016 - 8:00 PM
KELOWNA – An emotional young West Kelowna man was handed a four-year prison sentence for a robbery spree he says was necessary to keep his girlfriend from becoming a prostitute.
Cody James Higgs, 23, pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery, three of which were over a 24-hour-period in West Kelowna last March.
Higgs admitted to robbing the Super 8 motel, the Real Canadian Superstore and a Tim Hortons, all in West Kelowna on March 27 and 28, 2015. The Tim Hortons and the Super 8 robberies were in the middle of the night and involved the use of a flare gun that he pointed at the victims. He covered his face with a T-shirt for all three robberies.
At the time Higgs, who was born in Kamloops, was living in a car with his girlfriend and her father. All three were addicted to crack cocaine and heroin and Higgs says he only committed the robberies in order to pay his girlfriend's father who was threatening to force her into prostitution.
Higgs was arrested March 29 but released on bail. Six weeks later he robbed a grocery store in Barriere, B.C. where he was staying with his grandmother as a condition of his release.
Crown lawyer Dave Grabavac says Higgs needed gas money so he entered the store and approached a cashier.
“He said ‘this is a robbery’ and she said ‘that’s not a good idea’ and pointed at a surveillance camera behind her. He poked her in the belly with a knife and said ‘I’m desperate, this is really a robbery.’”
He left empty handed when a customer came in. The cashier was not injured.
A tearful Higgs said in court he only committed the crimes out of desperation.
“I understand that everything I did was wrong,” he said during sentencing in Kelowna Provincial Court today, April 21. “I never had any intentions for anyone to get hurt. I’m not a bad person. I never did it to benefit myself. I did it for other people. I was just trying to help two people that I dearly loved and I thought they loved me. Everything I did was wrong. I realize now… that this is my chance to change my life. If I don’t do it now I’m just going to be back in these courts again.”
Judge Ellen Burdett called the West Kelowna crimes “a spree” before sentencing him to four years in jail followed by a lifetime ban on owning firearms.
"People at work deserve to be protected from what seems like an ever-increasing number of robberies in the Okanagan Valley,” she said.
No family were present during the sentencing.
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