Guilty plea | 

Dubliner solicited man to murder couple after discovering intimate online messages with wife

Bryan Kennedy (35), who is awaiting sentencing for possession of child pornography, plead guilty at the Central Criminal Court

Bryan Kennedy

Paul NeilanSunday World

A Dublin man solicited another man to murder a woman and her partner because he felt "betrayed" after discovering intimate online messages between the Canadian couple and his wife, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The court heard that the defendant Bryan Kennedy (35), who is awaiting sentencing in the District Court for the possession of child pornography, is the sole carer for his children and that his wife is wheelchair-bound.

Kennedy, with an address at Mount Tallant Avenue, Harold's Cross, Dublin 6W, pleaded guilty to soliciting a man, who can only be referred to as 'AL' by court order, to murder Stephanie Poirier on a date unknown between October 1, 2019, and January 11, 2020, both dates inclusive, within the State.

Kennedy pleaded guilty in July to the same offence relating to Ms Poirier's partner, Clara Houdebrumette.

Today, Detective Sergeant Ronan O'Malley told James Dwyer SC, prosecuting, that Kennedy's partner had made contact with the couple, who live in rural Canada, via an online game.

Det Sgt O'Malley said that Kennedy had become aware of Facebook messages of an intimate nature between his then-wife and the couple, which included an invitation from the couple to join them in Canada.

Det Sgt O'Malley said that Kennedy told a neighbour he felt "betrayed" and that his wife had told him that she no longer loved him and had stopped wearing her wedding ring.

The detective said that Kennedy confided in AL, who told him that he could "get it sorted".

Det Sgt O'Malley said AL told Kennedy that he could "sort" either the Canadians or Kennedy's wife but "if you [Kennedy] go down this road it's a dangerous road".

The neighbour told gardaí that he did not believe that 'AL' had the capacity to carry out the threat and that Kennedy was being treated like a "gilly" and a "suck" and that AL was "trying to suck every penny" out of Kennedy.

The detective said Kennedy had given €8K to AL, who was becoming "pushy" about money and demanded a further €2K for his associates.

The neighbour said Kennedy was "petrified, crying and terrified" by threats made over phone calls and Whatsapp messages against him, his three children and his then-wife by AL as he demanded money, Det Sgt O'Malley said.

Det Sgt O'Malley said the neighbour and Kennedy went to a bank to withdraw money. Afterwards, Kennedy gave the neighbour his phone and a lockbox to give to Kennedy's sister and departed without telling the neighbour where he was going.

AL later approached Kennedy's wife at home, saying the defendant wanted a 10K "hit" and demanding that she come up with €1.5K inside 20 minutes and that she could pay off the remaining €500 in a week's time.

AL told Kennedy's wife that he himself had been beaten over Kennedy's debt to AL's associates and that if the money was not found she would be "kneecapped".

AL then took a picture of the Kennedys' front door and left. On January 10, 2020, Kennedy's ex-wife called gardaí when she heard banging and kicking at her front door and told them her back door mat had been lifted up as if someone was looking for a key.

She told gardaí that on January 13, 2020, AL was kicking the front door of the Kennedys' home shouting "hand over Bryan or there'll be trouble".

Det Sgt O'Malley told Mr Dwyer that Kennedy had already gotten on a ferry to England after borrowing money from neighbours to pay €8K to AL.

The witness said that Kennedy eventually returned and on February 11, 2020, he was approached by AL at Nutgrove Shopping Centre when with his then-wife and children. The detective said that AL became aggressive and was removed by security staff.

After a search warrant of Kennedy's sister's house, gardaí arrested Kennedy and took him to Terenure Garda Station where he admitted to engaging AL to hurt or kill the Canadian couple.

Kennedy told gardaí he backtracked on the deal, telling AL that €10K was too much money. Kennedy further admitted to gardaí that he hacked his wife's Facebook messages in order to have the Canadian couple "painted". In interviews with gardaí, Kennedy was asked what was meant by the word "painted" and said the two were "to be killed".

Kennedy told gardaí that he conspired to have the couple killed but never discussed the manner of the killing, later backing out and telling AL to keep the money and that the job no longer needed to be done.

Kennedy said AL had now become "incessant" about the €2K and that the defendant began thinking of doing the hit himself.

Det Sgt O'Malley said Kennedy, when admitting engaging a third party - AL - to kill the couple, said he was acting out of "love and heart-break". Kennedy told gardaí he wanted to be "open and honest" about the matter, about which he was "sorry and remorseful".

Det Sgt O'Malley told the court that, when contacted, the couple, who live in rural Quebec, expressed no concern for their wellbeing after being told of the situation.

Mr Dwyer told Ms Justice Caroline Biggs that Kennedy was facing a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment on both charges.

Defending barrister Dominic McGinn SC said Kennedy was the sole carer for his three children and that his ex-wife was in a wheelchair. Mr McGinn said AL did not have the capability to carry out his threat to the couple and that the two were never in danger.

Det Sgt O'Malley told Mr McGinn that Kennedy had been "extremely" co-operative with investigating gardaí.

Mr McGinn said his client had admitted both his "culpability and criminal intent" in soliciting AL to kill the couple but that there was "no credible threat" in the matter except to Kennedy himself and his family.

Mr McGinn said Kennedy was "forthright" with gardaí in his admissions and was "completely out of his depth in circumstances out of his control".

The barrister said Kennedy's way of dealing with the situation was "entirely wrong, and criminally wrong" and that his inability to cope with the situation led to his client "trying to disappear".

Mr McGinn said there was "no tangible reality of harm" being caused to the Canadian couple and that AL had tried to "take advantage" of Kennedy.

The barrister said Kennedy had been "unproblematic" when dealing with the probation services and was "inherently unlikely to be before the court again".

Mr McGinn said Kennedy had no previous convictions save for possession of child pornography at the "lower end of the scale", to which he had pleaded guilty at District Court level and was awaiting sentencing.

Ms Justice Biggs said she would read a probation report "line by line" before sentencing Kennedy and ordered that Tusla and the HSE be contacted regarding care provision for Kennedy's three children.

Ms Justice Biggs adjourned the matter to January 16, 2023, for an update on the reports required and remanded Kennedy on continuing bail, to which there was no garda objection.


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