Crown seeks 17 years in prison for Gary Arnold who kidnapped two Americans

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Crown seeks 17 years in prison for Gary Arnold, who kidnapped two Americans

Gary Arnold was found guilty by a jury in February of five counts, including kidnapping, extortion and conspiracy to kidnap James and Sandra Helm.

The Crown on Monday requested a 17-year prison sentence for the Quebec man convicted of participating in the kidnapping of an American couple in 2020.

The sentencing hearing began Monday in Superior Court in Montreal for 54-year-old Gary Arnold. In February, he was found guilty by a jury of five counts, including kidnapping, extortion and conspiracy to abduct James and Sandra Helm, a couple from Moira in northern India. ;State of New York.

Prosecutor Édith Lafontaine argued Monday before Judge Michel Pennou that the degree of responsibility of the accused was significant, because he had been an actor key in the joint venture. She also pointed out that Arnold had previous convictions, including for smuggling cigarettes into Canada through the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, which straddles Quebec, Ontario and the State. of New York.

The two Americans in their 60s had been abducted from their home in September 2020 by a group of men and smuggled to Canada by boat via Akwesasne. The Helms were then detained in a cabin in Magog, in the Eastern Townships, for two days. They were finally freed by the Sûreté du Québec tactical squad on September 29, 2020.

According to the Crown, this couple was abducted and held as bargaining chips in a failed drug trafficking case involving her grandson, Mackenzie Helm. According to the lawsuit, the grandson had been arrested in Vermont with a large amount of drugs six days earlier. Subsequently, men who wanted to recover the 50 kilos of cocaine, or $3.5 million in cash, had the two Americans kidnapped to use as bargaining chips.

A total of 10 calls were made to the couple's son, Michael Helm, demanding either the ransom payment or the surrender of grandson Mackenzie.

The lawyer of the defense, John T. Pepper Jr., asked the judge for a sentence of approximately 10 years in prison. The defense argued at trial that Arnold acted under threat and was unaware of the kidnapping plot.

Me Pepper insisted on Monday that his client had never been in the Helms' bedroom the night of the kidnapping and that his client had acted under threat from a man named Big . This man allegedly asked Arnold to perform various tasks, such as carrying cell phones, sending text messages and fetching catheters from a hospital that Sandra Helm needed.

Arnold testified at trial that Big showed him pictures of his wife and daughters to ensure he would carry out his orders.

Called to the stand, Sandra Helm named Arnold as one of the men who were in her room the night of the abduction, September 27, 2020.

Jurors returned their guilty verdicts on February 19 after 12 days of deliberations. They were unaware that the four other men charged in that case had all pleaded guilty in the months before Arnold's trial.

Me Pepper pleaded on Monday that his client's sentence should be less than the sentences of two other defendants involved in the conspiracy who pleaded guilty and had been on parole for unrelated convictions. Franco D'Onofrio and Kosmas Dritsas were sentenced to 15 and 13 years in prison, respectively.

Two other men charged in the case, George Dritsas and Taylor Lawrence Martin, were sentenced to were sentenced to six years and seven and a half years respectively in prison.

Me Pepper suggested to the judge to consider his client as a participant and not as the organizer.< /p>

Arnold has been detained since October 1, 2020. The other four men were arrested the same day the Helms were freed by the SQ, September 29.

Sandra Helm will deliver a victim impact statement to the court later this month. His son, Michael, will also address the court. The sentencing hearing will resume on March 16.

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