April 07, 2020

Border dispute cited in drunken boating case

PORTSMOUTH – The Maine-New Hampshire boundary dispute may play a role in the trial of a part-time Stratham police officer accused of drunken boating.

Thirty-four-year-old Michael Gobbi was charged with boating while intoxicated, refusing to take a chemical test and improperly displaying his bow lights after being arrested by the Marine Patrol in July.

His trial is scheduled for Wednesday in Portsmouth District Court.

Portsmouth lawyer Harry Starbranch has filed a motion to dismiss the case, contending Gobbi was in Maine waters when arrested.

The motion is expected to be addressed Wednesday before the trial.

“Our position is that the New Hampshire Marine Patrol had no jurisdiction to make the arrest. It’s the state of Maine’s contention, and ours, that the border between the two states is in the middle of the Piscataqua River and we expect to prevail,” Starbranch said.

New Hampshire disagrees, claiming the border is on the Maine bank of the river.

“The boundary issue is presently under review before the United States Supreme Court, but our view is the entire river is under New Hampshire’s jurisdiction,” said state prosecutor Steven Keable.

While the question primarily focuses on ownership of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the issue has been argued in previous criminal cases.

In 1994, Jeffrey Londres of Dover was arrested in connection with a boating accident that killed Thomas Canino of Greenland.

Londres’ first trial in Rockingham County Superior Court ended in a hung jury after Judge Douglas Gray instructed jurors they had to determine the incident occurred in New Hampshire waters in order to convict.

Londres eventually pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.

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