A jury convicted Hinchinbrooke resident Gary Arnold of multiple charges on February 19 for his role in the September 2020 abduction of a couple in their seventies from upstate New York.
Arnold was found guilty on five counts, including kidnapping, extortion, and conspiracy to kidnap James and Sandra Helm of Moira, N.Y.
The Helms were taken from their home, smuggled into Quebec by boat through the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, and held at a cottage in Magog for two days before being rescued, unharmed, by a Quebec provincial police tactical unit on Sept. 29, 2020. The prosecution accused Arnold of being involved in a conspiracy to kidnap the couple, noting phone records suggested he had been in constant communication with four others who were arrested the same day the Helms were rescued.
Arnold was never seen at the cottage where the Helms were held. He was intercepted in a farmer’s field where his phone was seized, and he was placed under arrest on October 1, 2020.
Arnold testified that he had acted out of fear after a man he referred to as “Big” threatened his life and his family. He denied having any prior knowledge of the plot to kidnap the Helms or having ever been inside their home. His lawyer argued his involvement was “non-criminal” and threats were the basis for his actions.
The dozen jurors returned the guilty verdicts after being sequestered on February 7 and began deliberations the following day. They were not told that the co-accused in the case had pleaded guilty last year and were serving time. Arnold had faced seven charges, but two counts of forcible confinement were withdrawn.
The case returns for the sentencing phase on March 6. (Canadian Press)