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Londonderry man gets prison time for setting car fires

Union Leader Correspondent

May 08. 2013 9:08PM

BRENTWOOD - A Londonderry man was sentenced to 2½ to 6 years in state prison for blowing up three vehicles behind his apartment complex after he became angry with a neighbor.

John Ramsey, 43, pleaded guilty to three counts of arson for the causing the explosive fires on the night of Sept. 6 , 2012, outside of a Charleston Avenue apartment complex.

Ramsey had initially denied to Londonderry police that he played any role in the fire. But witnesses and Ramsey's own statements made from jail to an ex-girlfriend eventually tied him to the late-night fire.

Ramsey had used a 150-foot fireworks fuse he bought from a neighbor, and put it into the gas tank of a Ford Escape, according to police.

"He lit the fuse, but the fuse didn't work," Assistant County Attorney Brad Bolton said.

Ramsey then pulled out a gas line from under the vehicle and used a rag to ignite it.

"There were three explosions, and he went to sleep," Bolton said.

Ramsey has already spent about 240 days in jail, which will count toward his state prison sentence. He received an additional 3½- to 7-year suspended prison sentence on two of the arson charges, according to terms of his plea deal.

Londonderry police were called to the apartment complex around midnight after several neighbors got into a dispute. Ramsey had told the police earlier in the night that he was upset at a neighbor because he touched his girlfriend and her two daughters, according an affidavit by Londonderry police Sgt. Kim Bernard.

"If you don't do something about him, I'm going to do something that will get me arrested," Ramsey allegedly told police.

The Ford Escape set on fire by Ramsey was owned by the sister of the man he was feuding with. The other two vehicles destroyed, a 2002 Ford Explorer and 2003 Honda Accord, were owned by other neighbors. Those vehicles caught fire because they were parked near the Ford Escape, prosecutors said.

A neighbor later told police that he moonlighted as a pyrotechnics expert and had sold Ramsey a 150-foot fuse after Ramsey asked for one to light off fireworks, police said.

Corrections officers also handed over to Londonderry police recorded phone calls that Ramsey made to his ex-girlfriend while being held at the county jail in an unrelated case. During at least one of the calls, he admitted to setting the fires, authorities said.

"Ramsey had confessed to her about the car fires and threatened to kill her," Bernard said in the affidavit. Ramsey also threatened that "if she told anyone, he would cut her up into small pieces," according to police.

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