NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 17, 2013

State's highest court rejects drunk driver's plea

AMESBURY — The state’s highest court earlier this week denied a New Hampshire man’s attempt to quash damning evidence that led him to plead guilty to a fifth drunken-driving charge in 2011.

As a result, Gregory S. Bartlett, 51, of Plaistow, N.H., will have to serve the next 21/2 years in prison, followed by three years of probation, as originally sentenced in 2010.

In January, Bartlett’s attorney Geoffrey DuBosque went before the state Supreme Court and argued that evidence that led to his client’s guilty plea was illegally obtained after a Merrimac police officer driving through Amesbury blocked him from leaving the Mandarin Chinese Restaurant parking lot after witnessing him drive erratically on Route 110.

Bartlett said because the Merrimac police officer was out of his jurisdiction, he had no authority to detain him until Amesbury police arrived about a minute later. In addition to the drunken-driving charge, Bartlett was charged with two drug possession-related charges.

Prosecutors argued that because the two towns have a signed mutual aid agreement, the Merrimac officer was within his authority and his rights to detain Bartlett. Amesbury police currently have a mutual aid agreement with Salisbury and Newburyport as well as Merrimac.

According to court documents, then Merrimac police officer Charles Sciacca, now a member of the Amesbury Police Department, had crossed into Amesbury to purchase a soda. On his return trip he noticed Bartlett crossing repeatedly over the middle line on Route 110 west. Suspecting Bartlett might be intoxicated, Sciacca followed him, with an intent to pull him over in Merrimac. But less than a mile from Merrimac, Bartlett stopped abruptly in the middle of the road, turned on his blinkers and took a left turn into the restaurant’s parking lot. Sciacca followed Bartlett into the lot, and fearing for the public’s safety, he pulled in front of Bartlett’s Chrysler, blocking him in. He then called Amesbury police who sent an officer to the scene right away.

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