Gilford kidnapper agrees to serve minimum 10 years

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A former Gilford man will serve a minimum of 10 years in prison for holding his estranged girlfriend hostage in her home for more than a day by keeping her handcuffed to a bed or shut in a closet, and threatening her with a loaded handgun.

Russell Holliday, 56, entered into a capped plea Tuesday in Belknap County Superior Court during a settlement conference with Judge Peter Fauver. A capped plea means that the state agrees to a maximum sentence in exchange for a plea bargain provided a judge agrees.

Holliday agreed to serve 3 1/2 to 7 years for one count of kidnapping, 3 ½ to 7 years for being in possession of a handgun, and to 3 to 6 years for felony-level criminal threatening. The sentences will be served consecutively, meaning when one sentence ends, the other begins.

He also agreed to serve 3 ½ to 7 years for a second kidnapping charge, which was suspended and could be imposed up to 10 years after his release date pending his good behavior.

In exchange, the state agreed to drop the charges for attempted aggravated felonious sexual assault and two Class A misdemeanor assaults.

After 26 hours of being held by Holliday, the victim managed to get the gun away from him and hid it in her boot. She later told him she wanted a cigarette, and when he agreed, she took his car and fled to the Gilford Police Department, where she sheltered in a safe room just off the lobby until officers, who were on a different call, could get back.

By negotiating the plea, the state avoids retraumatizing the victim by having her testify in open court.

Holliday is scheduled for sentencing on May 25 at 10 a.m. In the interim, he remains in the Belknap County House of Corrections on $100,000 cash bail.

Belmont sex offender sentenced

LACONIA — A former Belmont sex offender was sentenced yesterday to serve 1 ½ to 7 years in the New Hampshire State Prison for one count of failing to inform local police of his new location.

Arthur J. Leisner II, 31, had been living "in the woods at the end of Durrell Mountain Road," according to the indictment, and changed his location. He was arrested in early November of 2015 after several local police departments tried to find him.

Leisner, whose last known address was 37 Deware Drive was also given a suspended sentence of 3 ½ to 7 years for failing to report within five days that he used a cell phone.

He was arrested last Thursday in Laconia by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department after failing to appear for his first court date, said Sheriff Craig Wiggin Tuesday.

Four other similar charges were not prosecuted in exchange for the plea arrangement.

According to the State Police website for registered sex offenders, Leisner was convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault in 2004 for an assault against a victim who was under 18 years old.

Leisner also has three drug convictions.

– Gail Ober

Fire boat offered to Gilford may stay in Atlantic after all

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — Gilford officials may lose the opportunity to take a used fire boat from the city of Portsmouth. Some small towns on the Seacoast voiced interest in contributing to the upkeep of the vessel after the gift to Gilford was announced. Nevertheless, Gilford officials said they will go ahead with a public hearing regarding acceptance of the boat.

Selectman's Chairman Richard "Rags" Grenier said Tuesday he is not surprised that the smaller communities on the coast would be concerned about the Portsmouth City Council's decision to give the $350,000 boat to Gilford.

"We will go forward with our public hearing and wait and see what (Portsmouth's) final decision is," said Grenier.

Two weeks ago, the Portsmouth City Council, at the recommendation of Fire Chief Steve Achilles, voted to give the boat to Gilford. Achilles said the costs of maintaining it in salt water are too high, and that the U.S. Coast Guard and N.H. Marine Patrol have upped their presence in the waters off the coast, so the boat is rarely used.

The fire boat was purchased in 2005 with a federal Homeland Security Agency grant and cannot be sold.

Gilford's fire boat is 40 years old and is on the list of future capital purchases to be made by the town in the not-too-distant future. What appeared to be a godsend from Portsmouth has now turned into a controversy for Portsmouth's smaller neighbors.

According to Seacoast Online, officials in New Castle asked if the city would reconsider giving the boat to Gilford if they could get together a consortium of other smaller towns to offset the maintenance costs.

Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko told Achilles to work with the consortium but said he wanted to see a financial commitment for at least five years, reported Elizabeth Dinan. He also said the final decision was in the hands of the Portsmouth Fire Commission.

Gilford Fire Chief Steve Carrier said yesterday that he has not given up hope that the fire boat can come to Lake Winnipesaukee.

"It's a gift," said Carrier. "We don't have it yet, but if they don't want to give it to us, that's their prerogative.

He said he continues to work with Marine Patrol Capt. Timothy Dunleavy learning about staffing and upkeep and still hopes the department gets the boat.

Not only will the fire boat improve Gilford's ability to fight fires on the lake's many islands and along the coastline, but Carrier said that medical transports from the islands and boats will be much more comfortable for those who firefighters, rescue crews and ambulance crews assist.

Gilford officials have scheduled the public hearing for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in the meeting room at the Gilford Town Offices.

04-19 Portsmouth fire boat

This is the boat Portsmouth was prepared to donate to the town of Gilford. Now other towns on the Seacoast are interested in it. (Courtesy photo by Rich Beauchesne/Seacoastonline)

04-19 Portsmouth fire boat