Ossipee — March 6, 2012 — A former firefighter who started about a dozen arson fires last spring and summer was sentenced to 18 months in jail and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution by a Carroll County Superior Court judge on Monday.
Former Madison firefighter John Colcord, 19, of Eaton, will serve 18 months in Carroll County House of Corrections. Once he gets out, Colcord will have a 3.5 to 7 year suspended state prison sentence hanging over his head for 10 years. He will also be on probation for five years. Further, Colcord was ordered to pay about $1,972,269 in restitution (not counting a 17 percent penalty attached to some of the sentences), take a tour of the New Hampshire State Prison, attend therapy, and complete 500 hours of community service.
County attorney Tom Dewhurst said Colcord responded as a firefighter to the blazes that he set. In his confessions, Colcord told investigators how he set various fires. In all there were a total of 11 to 14 fires, said Dewhurst.
“The rational in sentencing is due to the defendant’s lack of a criminal record, his age and also to address the pain and hardship that was placed upon the victims and the potential victims that could have been hurt by these fires,” said Dewhurst.
Judge Steven Houran agreed with Dewhurst’s recommended sentence. The judge said it’s within an acceptable range.
“Someone knowing the nature of these charges, the extent of damages in particular but not exclusively to occupied structures that occurred, the fear and concern in communities affected, may wonder why I’m not imposing, even for somebody who is young and has no record, why I’m not imposing stand committed state prison time,” said Houran. “The answer to that is brief: rehabilitation.”
Houran said when sentencing he looks for a sense of remorse. Houran said Colcord showed remorse by confessing. Houran also said it’s “obvious” Colcord has family support. Several family members watched Monday’s hearing. The judge said the restitution order will stay with Colcord for life until it’s paid. Houran said a victim suggested he should impose more community service. However, Houran said he’d rather have Colcord concentrate on restitution.
Colcord plead guilty to burning homes on Glines Hill Road in Eaton and Watson Hill Road in Freedom; a cabin on Page Hill Road in Tamworth; two barns on Mooney Hill Road in Madison. He also pleaded guilty starting brush fires in the Pine Barrens and several fires at Purity Spring Resort.
Defense attorney Danielle Santuccio said the sentence was appropriate because Colcord had never been in trouble before and he cooperated with investigators. Further, she explained Colcord has been diagnosed with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The PTSD is a result of responding to a fatal car accident that killed his best friend, Nick Hilliard.
“Inexplicably he was left as a 16-year-old high school volunteer to sweep up the scene of his close friend’s fatal accident,” said Santuccio. “After this incident John was not enrolled in any counseling nor was he offered services by the Madison Fire Department.”
Santuccio says Colcord enjoys working on cars and would pursue work in the automotive field. Santuccio said Colcord has offered to do chores for the victims.
“John doesn’t want this small window of time to define the rest of his life,” said Santuccio.
Houran replied Colcord’s mental issues don’t excuse his actions.