When police got to the home, Ms. Ryan told the RCMP that he had had threatened to burn down the house. She also played voice mail phone messages he had left for her but the constable who heard them relayed that they “contained no threats.” Still, police brought Ms. Ryan to “a safe place for the evening,” police say.
The next day, Ms. Ryan gave a statement to police alleging that her husband “had never hit her” but was “verbally aggressive and manipulative.” “He said that he would burn the house and ruin my reputation in the community,” she said in the sworn statement to the Mounties. “And he would phone the police on me and tell them I was an unfit mother.”
Those allegations led to Mr. Ryan’s arrest that week, where he was charged with uttering threats. He had denied the allegations against him, but police assessed him as a “high risk” and seized registered firearms in his house, according to the watchdog agency’s report.
But the investigation stalled for lack of evidence. When the watchdog agency probed why they were told by RCMP Constable Christian Thibaudeau that all police had to go on was hearsay.
Recalling his initial conversation with Ms. Ryan, the constable said it went this way. “Has he threatened to kill you? No. Has he every done anything -- violence, rape, assault, threats to, to kill, threats to hurt you? No, no, no. I’m just scared of him. All right. And then I explained to her … well for us to do something we need grounds …”
After the threat charges against Mr. Ryan were dismissed for no reasonable prospect of conviction, there were other police contacts, according to the watchdog report.
On Dec. 6, 2007, the husband called police to complain the family dog had been left out over night without food, shelter or water. Police called the wife, and she told them her husband could come get the dog if he was concerned. Instead, an RCMP constable picked up the dog and put it in a shelter.
On Dec. 16, 2007, the husband called police to complain that his in-laws were trespassing on a family property.
The next day, Ms. Ryan moved out of the marital home, and her husband asked police if he could return to the residence and pick up some things -- and police said that would be okay.
Then, “Ms. Doucet’s father, sister, and brother-in-law arrived on the property armed with metal pipes. It appears from the documentation in the file that Ms. Doucet’s father assaulted Mr. Ryan,” the watchdog report says. “Mr. Ryan sustained serious injuries …”
Police charged the husband’s father-in-law with assault; when they questioned Ms. Ryan about the incident she claimed to have no knowledge of it.
“Given the severity of the incident, the fact that Ms. Doucet does not know what occurred or the circumstances surrounding the assault affects the reliability of her recollections,” the watchdog’s report says.
In early January, 2008, Mr. Ryan called the RCMP to complain that his wife had been stealing his mail. The Mounties found no grounds to lay theft charges.
Later that month, Ms. Ryan relayed to the Mounties that her husband had threatened to kill their dog -- and that she felt unsafe. “Suddenly he becomes crazy and violent … it happens in a flash, he is very violent,” she told the RCMP. “He’s always been violent that’s all I can say.”
The report says that Ms. Ryan relayed that she was told by a victim-services worker that some battered women can get a “panic button” -- a new tool that gives them a direct line to the cops. She requested one, but RCMP did not follow through, given local police had no experience in acquiring this tool, that there were only two or three in use in Nova Scotia, and that the threat against Ms. Ryan was felt to be relatively low.
“I find that it was reasonable for Corporal Thibaudeau to determine that Ms. Doucet was not elgible for a ‘panic button’ or similar device,” Mr. McPhail’s report says.