Video footage edited by the CBC.
If you’re not familiar with the confusingly twisted story of how Nova Scotian Nicole Doucet hired a hitman, who was actually an undercover RCMP officer, to murder her allegedly abusive husband, then it might be time for you to catch up on one of the crazier stories to face the Canadian criminal justice system in recent memory. Also, check out the video embedded above, recently released by the RCMP, which is the RAW footage of Nicole ordering the hit. More on that later, though.
After publishing my first article on this case, I received some blowback because I did not mention a crucial part of Nicole’s defense: that she had called 911 and the RCMP numerous times, to try and get them to take down her tyrant of a husband. She said the cops didn’t seem to care whatsoever, and that’s why she had to call a hitman to do the job for her.
I didn’t mention any of that because, as anyone who was following the case knows, the police and Nicole’s husband Michael were not called to the stand to testify making it difficult to corroborate those 911 calls. Since publishing my first article, the RCMP has come out “dismissing the criticism” from the Supreme Court of Canada who wagged their finger at our mounted law enforcement squad for not coming to Nicole’s defense. The RCMP’s assistant commissioner Alphonse Macneil told the press that: “I'm here to tell you today that the comments about violent activity that were reported to the court were not reported to us.”
The violent activity that Alphonse is alluding to was explained in vivid detail by Nicole Doucet, after she went on CBC Radio to say that her ex-husband Michael Ryan threatened to bury her and their daughter in the backyard, slammed her head against a wall, pointed a gun at her face, and threatened to stab her… none of which was witnessed by a single soul. Nor was Michael called to testify, making it her word against, well, nobody.
As is detailed in the Supreme Court’s judgment, what was witnessed was a vague incident where Nicole was at work and saw Michael sitting in her car in the parking lot. She was apparently surprised and felt threatened by her husband who was sitting in her car unannounced, so she called the cops. There were witnesses there, since she was at work, and the police told her they couldn’t do anything because the car was in Michael’s name. Totally fucking weird and creepy, yes. But there is no mention there of Michael Ryan becoming agitated or abusive during this supposed altercation. In one examination of an email sent from Michael to Nicole where Michael was being “nice and charming,” a medical expert declared that “nice and charming are characteristics of a batterer.”
There is another mention in the trial judgment where Nicole's sister testifies that she saw Michael Ryan put his hands around Nicole's throat and say that he was going to "squeeze her scrawny little neck." This is, of course, a huge red flag. In my conversation with Michael he did also tell me about a time where Nicole's brother in law and father beat him brutally with a lead pipe. That case's judgment is online here and the events are addressed in a psychiatric evaluation of Nicole that reads: "She confirmed there had been a physical altercation between her relatives and her husband and felt that her relatives had been unjustly charged with criminal offences. She felt her husband would not abide by any legal constraints on his behaviour. She denied that her husband had ever been physically abusive to her or threatened to kill her, but said she feared he might. When asked why she told the undercover officer her husband should be killed before April 1, she responded that they were due in court for a child custody hearing and said 'I didn't want to look at him again.'"
Was her family's attack on Michael in retaliation for his abusive behaviour? Could Nicole's sister have been helping to extend the mythology of Michael's reign of terror? What is true, is that clearly Nicole and Michael were engaged in a highly toxic relationship that is very difficult to untangle with only one side of the story.
So besides the spotty evidence and lack of RCMP confirmation that Michael Ryan was actually an abusive man, there is the footage embedded at the top of this article. You can see and hear quite clearly that Nicole denies that Michael Ryan was physically abusive. She's smiling and seems awfully cheerful. Nicole also tells the hitman it'll be no big deal if Michael's girlfriend gets murdered in the midst of the hit as well. She also asks for Michael to be killed before April 1st, the date of a crucial custody hearing for Nicole and Michael. When I spoke to Michael, he told me that he believes Nicole wanted him dead so that she could regain full custody of their daughter.
What’s also interesting to note is that Nicole Doucet was able to reach out to two other potential hitmen before she landed on the undercover RCMP officer. In an extended cut of the tape that we've seen, she refers to one of the potential assassins as a “mickey mouse operation” and seems to be quite adept at negotiating the rates and assessing the capabilities of every one of the would-be murderers. Her cool and collected attitude when purchasing the services of a murderer is somewhat alarming. Are hitmen really that easy to find? What happened to the other two hitmen that Nicole was after? While the existence of these two other assassins doesn’t establish her guilt or innocence either way, there’s no word of any real hitmen getting arrested in connection to this case, a fact that is somewhat disturbing.
And yet, the trial was stayed. While the relationship between Nicole and Michael sounds extremely volatile and abusive at times, it's highly perplexing how Nicole Doucet will not be prosecuted any further and Michael was not called to testify. Whether you’d like to call that “getting away” with the crime or if it’s just some overly technical legal fuck-up that may or may not be a cover-up for the Nova Scotia court’s seriously erroneous acquittal of Nicole before the trial had to be dragged to our national courts, it doesn’t really matter. Our courts did not punish an individual after they tried to hire an assassin to murder their significant other. Much of Nicole's reasoning for the hit was not backed up or witnessed or corroborated by anyone other than herself, and that was reasoning enough for the whole case to be swept under the rug.
Good job, courts.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrickmcguire
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