By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 12, 2023.
While duty counsel lawyer Jeremy DeBow dutifully helped people facing criminal charges through the initial stages of courtroom hearings, one of the accused snuck into his office and stole the key to his vehicle parked in front of the Lethbridge Courthouse.
The woman was seen on video surveillance entering the office and taking the key on Sept. 25. Police found her the following day, and she confessed to the theft, but said she gave the key to another person, of whose name she was unsure.
Her description of the suspect led police to Cory Raymond Cook, and on Sept. 28 police found the 2019 Jeep Wrangler – registered to retired judge Gerald DeBow – parked outside a residence on the northside. Cook admitted he received the keys from the woman, whose initial intention was to simply drive the vehicle for a while then return it. Cook also talked about selling the $58,000 vehicle for $3,000 to a buyer in Medicine Hat.
Cook pleaded guilty Monday in Lethbridge Court of justice to one count of theft of a motor vehicle and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. He also pleaded guilty to charges of breaching a peace bond and breaching a prohibition order, for which he was sentenced to another 30 days and 60 days respectively.
On Aug. 30 Cook had entered into a two-year peace bond, following his release on a conviction for sexual interference. He was ordered to reside at the homeless shelter, but on Dec. 4 police responded to a report of a disturbance just east of the shelter and found Cook living in a tent.
“He became somewhat defensive,” Crown Prosecutor Bob Morrison said. “He indicated that he was living right there…and it’s close to the shelter and that he was using some of the services of the shelter but had some safety concerns about staying there overnight, so they moved out to this tent.”
The charge of breaching probation stems from an incident on Nov. 25 while he was under a court order prohibiting him from going to a park or swimming pool where there would also likely be anyone under the age of 16.
While police were patrolling Galt Gardens downtown, they became aware of someone in medical distress near the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. They found Cook who was overdosing on drugs and had to be treated with Narcan. Police noted that Cook was only about 20 metres from a spray park and 40 metres from a playground, which put him in contravention of his prohibition order.
Lethbridge lawyer Miranda Hlady told court Cook suffers from some mental health issues, as well as addictions to methamphetamine and fentanyl, and at the time of his second arrest he was off his medication.
Even though Cook was ordered to live at the shelter, Hlady explained her client does not feel safe at the shelter following a public warning by the police in August that Cook, a “high risk offender,” was living in Lethbridge after being released on a peace bond in relation to a sexual assault of a four-year-old girl.
“So he does have some challenges at the shelter with other individuals,” Hlady said.
“He felt that by living in close proximity to the shelter, but in a tent, and continuing to access the shelter, to use the phone and to shower, on a daily basis, that he was complying with his conditions or at least the spirit of his conditions.”
Although Cook was sentenced to a total of four months in jail, 11 days was subtracted from the sentence for time he already spent in pre-trial custody.
Follow @DShurtzHerald on Twitter