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Supreme Court stays abused wife's case

Jan. 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court of Canada Friday overturned the acquittal of a Nova Scotia woman who tried to hire a hitman to kill her abusive husband.

However, in its ruling, the Supreme Court stayed the case, meaning there will be no retrial for Nicole Doucet Ryan, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Doucet was arrested in March 2008 and charged with counseling to commit murder after she approached an undercover police officer to kill her husband, Michael Ryan.

Doucet told lower courts that she was abused by her husband for many years and one time he threatened to "burn the [expletive] house down" with her and her daughter inside if she tried to leave.

Her defense lawyers used the defense of duress, rather than self-defense, in Doucet's case. Duress can apply when someone reasonably fears for his or her life or safety, and sees no reasonable avenue of escape.

A jury acquitted her as did the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. However, the Crown appealed Ryan's acquittal to the Supreme Court of Canada arguing the defense of duress was incorrectly applied in her case.

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