Police: Crash no accident — (South Boston)

Original article no longer available

South Boston

By David R. Smith, MPG Newspapers

November 10, 2004

PLYMOUTH (Nov 10) – Daniel Gascoyne allegedly threatened to kill both himself and his girlfriend, Courtney Harding, by driving into a tree. Saturday, Oct. 23, he did crash into a tree, and Harding died the next day.

A visibly nervous Gascoyne, with handcuffs rattling from his shaking hands, was arraigned in Plymouth District Court Tuesday on charges of manslaughter and DUI motor vehicle homicide just hours after his arrest in Bridgewater. The court ordered him held on $100,000 bail or $10,000 surety.

As Assistant District Attorney Maryclare Flynn read details of the night Harding died, Gascoyne began crying at the mention of Harding and their 3-year-old daughter.

Flynn said Gascoyne had a lengthy juvenile record.

Plymouth district court Judge Thomas Brownell issued a warrant for the 23-year-old Gascoyne’s arrest last Friday, Nov. 5. State Police Trooper Anna Brooks applied for the warrant based on an affadavit detailing the actions police accuse Gascoyne of taking Oct. 23.

Police allege Gascoyne, of 7 Cordage Terrace in Plymouth, crashed his 2001 Pontiac Bonneville into a tree off Hedges Pond Road in Cedarville.

The 22-year-old Harding, of 914 Long Pond Road, was in the passenger seat at the time of the accident.

She was taken to Jordan Hospital and later flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where she died a day later.

According to an autopsy performed by the state medical examiner’s office Oct. 26, Harding died of blunt head and neck trauma. The manner of her death is under investigation.

The medical examiner said Harding had deep bruises on her upper left arm and right shoulder.

Gascoyne was taken first to Jordan Hospital and then to Pembroke Hospital with serious but nonlife-threatening injuries.

Gascoyne spent one week at the private, psychiatric Pembroke Hospital. He was later transferred to Journey House in Bridgewater, where has was arrested Tuesday.

Gascoyne’s legal counsel said he had been diagnosed with alcohol and drug addictions, and has been on antidepressants and sleep-inducing drugs.

According to Gascoyne, he and Harding were coming home from Bobby Byrne’s Restaurant in Sandwich the night of the crash.

Witnesses at the bar that evening told police the couple argued, with Gascoyne repeatedly swearing at Harding.

According to police, hospital medical records showed Gascoyne’s blood alcohol to be more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.

In her affidavit, Trooper Brooks said police found a liquid which appeared to be beer in the car’s center console, as well as several cans of open and unopened beer in the car.

Police also found a bottle of the antidepressant Lexapro, for which Gascoyne had a prescription.

An inspection of the car suggested Gascoyne drove 81 mph in a 30 mph zone when he crashed into the tree.

According to the affidavit, Gascoyne and Harding had a rocky relationship.

Friends of Harding’s interviewed by police said she had told them Gascoyne threatened to drive into a tree and kill himself, Harding and their young daughter if she ever broke up with him.

Harding also allegedly told friends that an incident similar to the one which claimed her life occurred Oct. 15. She said while driving with Gascoyne, she tried to get him to slow down, at which point he grabbed her arms, likely causing the bruises on her arm discovered later during the autopsy.

Police were called to an argument between the two near Clifford Road and River Street that same night, Oct. 15. No charges were filed.

Harding’s mother also knew of problems her daughter had with Gascoyne.

When Plymouth police went to Harding’s home the night of the accident, an officer reported Harding’s mother fell to the floor.

“He finally did it,” she said. “He killed her, didn’t he?”

When the officer asked who “he” was, Harding’s mother replied, “Daniel Gascoyne.”

The mother told police she had told her daughter to get a restraining order against Gascoyne.

She said her daughter said doing so would be signing her own death warrant.

In addition to the manslaughter and OUI motor vehicle homicide charge, Gascoyne is charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Gascoyne said through legal counsel he plans to appeal the bail amount.

A pre-trial hearing is set for Dec. 3.