Final arguments at trial of Quebec man accused in abduction of elderly U.S. couple

A Quebec man on trial for the kidnapping of a couple from Upstate New York who were smuggled into the province and held captive was heavily involved in the plot, the prosecution said Thursday in its closing arguments.

“We submit to you that Gary Arnold knows a lot. He knows everything about what’s going on,” Edith Lafontaine told the jury, saying the kidnapping and extortion plot was well planned.

Arnold, 54, faces seven charges, including kidnapping, unlawful confinement, extortion and conspiracy, stemming from the abduction of James and Sandra Helm on Sept. 27, 2020.

Arnold testified earlier that he was threatened by a man known simply as “Big” to do various jobs in September 2020, such as dropping off phones, sending text messages and picking up catheters for an unknown woman. But Arnold said he never met the Helms and knew nothing of the plot.

Lafontaine told the jury that a flurry of phone calls and text messages using prepaid phones linked to Arnold and three other people who were charged in connection with the kidnapping suggests he clearly knew what was going on.

“We submit to you this is not a regular amount of communication between the same four people,” Lafontaine told the jury. “The only reason they would talk so much together is if they are planning something, and they are.”

The Crown has said the couple were kidnapped as leverage in a bid to recover 50 kilograms of cocaine or $3.5 million cash from their grandson Mackenzie, who had been arrested in Vermont on Sept. 21. A total of 10 calls were made to the couple’s son, Michael Helm, seeking ransom.

The trial heard the couple were brought into Quebec by boat through the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne before being taken to a cottage in Magog, Que., about 125 kilometres southeast of Montreal. They were freed two days later by a Quebec provincial police tactical unit.


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