The Supreme Court handed down its decision Tuesday, ruling that any evidence collected during Lantagne’s unlawful arrest should not have been presented during his case in Superior Court.
“Photographing properly-attired children in an open and public portion of Canobie Lake Park — regardless of whether the photographs were of the children’s backsides, were taken surreptitiously or would be uploaded to a computer — would not have warranted a reasonable belief that the photographer posed a threat of imminent harm to any patrons, including the children,” the court ruled.
Lantagne and Macoul lost their bid before Judge Margaret Wageling to bar the cellphone photos from being submitted as evidence.
During the hearing, park employees testified about their encounter with Lantagne, saying he held the cellphone below his waist to photograph the girls while trying not to be detected.
Wageling later ruled that police had the right to confiscate Lantagne’s cellphone and to detain him.
Macoul said while justice was served when the conviction was overturned, the two-year ordeal had a major impact on his client and caused him to lose his job with a Massachusetts printing company.
Although free pending the outcome of his appeal, Lantagne still spent 13 days and jail and had to post $50,000 cash bail to earn his release, Macoul said.
“It’s been very emotional — we feel he has not been properly treated from the beginning,” Macoul said. “Nobody can give him back what he’s been through.”
Salem Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said yesterday it was premature to comment on the high court’s ruling.
“The decision is obviously disappointing from a public safety standpoint,” he said in a statement. “The case was handled and prosecuted by the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office and until we have had time to review the decision with them, it wouldn’t be prudent to comment at this time.”