N.S. hit man case didn't need husband's side, Crown says
Michael Ryan never testified at Nicole Ryan Doucet's Nova Scotia trial
The husband of Nicole Doucet Ryan, the Nova Scotia woman who tried to hire a hit man to kill him, was never called to testify in the case, because his testimony wasn't needed to refute the defence of duress, a senior Crown attorney on the case says.
Doucet, as she is now known, was arrested in March 2008 and charged with counselling an undercover police officer to kill her husband, Michael Ryan.
The woman, from southwestern Nova Scotia, told lower courts about years of abuse at the hands of her husband.
"I can understand how Mike Ryan can feel; he's been vilified in the media and public reporting of this case, but the Crown's role is not to call evidence on the basis of advancing an individual witnesses' reputation," said Peter Craig, with the Public Prosecution Service.
"We call evidence after determining the legal issues."
Their story hit the national spotlight last week when the Supreme Court of Canada ordered an extraordinary stay of proceedings in the case, while granting the Crown appeal and overturning her acquittal
Ex-husband says courts were wrong
Ryan fueled the controversy earlier this week when he posted a video defending himself on YouTube.
"I was not called to testify," Ryan said in the video. "This was shocking to me, considering she was claiming the defence of duress and was claiming battered woman's syndrome.
"During the entire trial, I sat outside the court parking lot, waiting for my turn to testify. This time did not come and my testimony was left unheard. I was denied the right to a voice during Nicole's trial, and to state for the record that I have never abused Nicole or our daughter in any shape or form."
Defence of duress
Duress applies when a person is forced to commit a criminal act because they have been the victim of violence, threats or other coercion.
Craig said he's "comfortable" with the decision his team made at trial.
"The history of the relationship between Mr. Ryan and Ms. Ryan was relevant to only one issue, and that's whether or not Ms. Ryan had advanced and made out this duress defence."
Craig said they had videotape evidence of Doucet asking the undercover RCMP officer to kill her husband and she admitted to the charge early on in the proceeding.
"That meant the Crown didn't, as is the usual course, call any evidence to support the commission of the offence," he said.
The Supreme Court — and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal before it — based conclusions about Ryan on the findings of fact made by the trial judge, who accepted his ex-wife's testimony "without question," as the Appeal Court noted.
With files from The Canadian Press