Earlier this month, Nicole Doucet was brought in front of the Supreme Court of Canada after she tried to have her allegedly abusive and estranged ex-husband, Michael Ryan, killed. She hired a hitman to do the job for $25,000, but unfortunately for Nicole and fortunately for Michael, the assassin turned out to be an undercover RCMP officer. While a lot of Canada has rallied behind Nicole, what most people don’t know is that Nicole told the hitman that Michael was never physically abusive during their initial transaction, and also said that she was OK with the possibility of Michael’s girlfriend getting killed as collateral damage.
Despite that, Nicole was ultimately absolved by the Supreme Court of Canada in what they described as an “an exceptional situation,” where Michael Ryan’s testimony “wasn’t needed.” The case only reached the SCOC because the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, who had originally acquitted Nicole entirely, made a “serious legal error.” As a result of her allegations of abuse, Nicole was found to be “under duress.” Her proceedings were stayed, meaning that she was not found guilty or innocent, and she was just permitted to have her case forgotten about and swept under the proverbial rug of law, without any opportunity for Michael to testify.
Since the hearing, Nicole has appeared on CBC Radio’s The Current to describe, at length, the amount of abuse she allegedly had to endure. She says that Michael had pointed a gun to her head, mocked stabbing her with a real knife, and threatened to bury her and their daughter Aimée in their backyard. Recently Michael, who never had a chance to tell his side of the story in court, put up a YouTube video claiming that none of that ever happened. His video has received over 120,000 views in little over a week.
I spoke to Michael over the phone, and he did admit to me that he has a history of anger management issues: “In my younger years, I came from a tough background, not different from anyone else -- I had a few anger management issues when I was a young soldier around the military base. I joined the military when I was 17 years old, basically a young kid around a bunch of burly men and you know anybody in the military or lives around the military base. You go down to the local bars, you know, and you’re bound to get mixed up in to something and you know I had a few scuffles and you know I had a bit of an anger management control issue and I didn’t like the way I reacted and as a result of that I got help for it. I went and took some anger management counselling in the late eighties, early nineties -- before I even met Nicole… I was never aggressive towards women.”
He claims that as a result of Nicole’s controlling family, he was left without any other choice but to divorce her. He told me that this divorce, along with the pressure of her manipulative family, sent her into a spiral of depression that caused her to lose custody of Aimée. Michael believes that full custody of Aimée and the insurance settlement for Michael's life is the reason that Nicole wanted him dead, and this would have been his defence, were he to have taken the stand.
It seems irrational and unfair that, just because a woman has accused a man of abuse, that he will not be able to testify and defend himself. Clearly Michael has a history of anger and violence, but there was no evidence of any physically abusive behaviour that led the courts to decide in Nicole’s favour. The allegations of psychological abuse that Nicole makes certainly are very serious as well, but they are nearly impossible to prove without first-hand witnesses. The only person who could effectively rebut these allegations would have been Michael, but again, he never had the chance.
Michael is, of course, more shocked than anyone. He told me about the first time he heard Nicole had hired a hitman to kill him. The RCMP called him and, according to Michael’s retelling of their conversation, assured Michael by saying their “audio and video coverage of this arrest is in perfect quality” and let him know that the evidence they had was “very strong.” He also says that they let him know he is worth “over a million dollars dead.”