Kidnapped elders: Accused acted under duress, defense says

Kidnapped elders: Accused acted under duress, defense says

The man accused of taking part in the kidnapping of an American couple and then seizing them for two days in Magog would have been forced to take part in the act, his lawyer said Thursday.

• Also read: Couple confiscated in Magog: The seventy-year-old tells of their kidnapping in the United States

• Also read: Kidnapped Elderly Couple: A Script-worthy Scheme

“Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t want to be there and tell yourself you shouldn’t do something but you have to do it? That if you don’t, something could happen?” the jury asked Me John T. Pepper, Gary Arnold’s attorney, in his opening statement to the defense at the Montreal Courthouse.

In a heartfelt speech, the attorney assured the jury would now hear “the other side of the coin” in this case, which dates back to September 2020 and left lasting trauma to a couple in their 70s from New York State.

On the night of the kidnapping, James and Sandra Helm were enjoying their evening at home when people broke into their home. After covering their heads, they were driven through the Akwesasne Reserve by car before, among other things, embarking on a boat bound for Magog.

The pair were then seized in a chalet for two days.

James and Sandra Helm were seized in this chalet in Magog.

PHOTO SUPPLIED BY THE COURT

James and Sandra Helm were seized in this chalet in Magog.

“We had seen their faces … I was scared, I didn’t think they would let us go,” Sandra Helm said.

Obligation

According to the Crown, the kidnappers had acted because of an alleged drug debt of their grandson. They wanted to either reclaim $3.5 million or find the grandson.

“I had no other choice, I don’t want your parents, but if I die tonight you will not see them again, because who will bring them back to you?” one of the kidnappers had told the couple’s son, before police located the couple and sent the tactical intervention group to rescue the victims.

James and Sandra Helm were seized in this basement of a chalet in Magog.

PHOTO SUPPLIED BY THE COURT

James and Sandra Helm were seized in this basement of a chalet in Magog.

It therefore appears that the defense wishes to emphasize this alleged coercion in Arnold’s favour.

“There may be times when you decide you don’t go to the police, you comply, and then you move on in life, you go home to see your wife and kids,” Me Pepper said.

Arnold will also take the witness stand, the attorney assured.

More details to come…

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