Dubliner Bryan Kennedy hired a man he knew to murder Canadian couple Stephanie Poirier and Clara Houde-Brunette after they became friends with his wife online and supported her decision to leave him.
In one of the most bizarre criminal conspiracies of recent times, Dubliner Bryan Kennedy hired a man he knew to murder Canadian couple Stephanie Poirier and Clara Houde-Brunette after they became friends with his wife online and supported her decision to leave him.
When approached by the Sunday World this week, Kennedy admitted what he did was bizarre and said he went crazy when he found out his wife was leaving him.
“It is an unusual case. It’s so unusual. You see stuff like that in other countries, not here,” he told our reporter.
“At the end of the day it was just heartbreak. You get the worst news possible and you just start thinking crazy.”
Kennedy, who is living in Shanliss Avenue in Santry, Dublin, will be sentenced in January after he pleaded guilty to soliciting a man – who by court order can only be referred to as ‘AL’ – to murder Stephanie and Clara on a date unknown between October 1, 2019, and January 11, 2020, both dates inclusive, within the State.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Stephanie has revealed the sequence of events that led to Kennedy hiring a hitman to murder her and wife Clara.
The couple, who live in Quebec, Canada, were very unlikely targets for assassination.
They weren’t witnesses due to give evidence against a mob boss or criminals feuding with a rival gang – they were two women who played Dungeons and Dragons online with an Irish friend.
“All I did was make a friend and then someone tried to kill me,” said Stephanie from her home in Quebec.
“You don’t expect when you talk to someone new and become friends that something so terrible is going to happen as to cause an international crime incident.
“My wife said it best, she said she’s an accountant in a small town and this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen to her.”
Stephanie said she and Clara got to know Kennedy’s wife on social media in 2019 and they became good friends. They would chat online and play games of Dungeons and Dragons together.
During their conversations, Kennedy’s wife revealed how her relationship wasn’t working and she wanted to end it.
“I did whatever any good friend would do and said ‘if you’re not happy in your relationship you should leave’,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie’s friendship with Kennedy’s wife continued and the pair would have intimate conversations.
“We kept talking and as things developed, you get really good friends and you start talking about intimate things, like girls talking about boys and all that stuff.
“We thought everything was private but it turned out Bryan had kept log-in information on his phone for his wife’s accounts. He had been reading all her messages as it happened in real time.
“He saw intimate pictures I shared between me and a good friend. The feeling of privacy and safety on the internet is something all three of us – me, my wife and his ex – will never get back. I’m so afraid when I send people pictures nowadays.”
Kennedy was becoming increasingly angry as he secretly read the conversations.
“This infuriated Bryan and the closer me and my friend got and the more we exchanged messages – we sent each other messages like ‘do I look cute in this outfit’ and stuff like that – he got insanely upset.”
While it was claimed in court that Kennedy’s wife told him she was moving to Canada to live with the couple, Stephanie said that wasn’t true.
“We said ‘do you want to visit Canada and get away for a week? We have an extra spare room.’ Bryan got really cold and angry with her, and that made it a very sour household.”
Things escalated in January 2020. Unbeknownst to the women, Kennedy had months earlier agreed to pay ‘AL’ €10,000 for the double murder and had already coughed-up €8,000 to the wannabe hitman, who was pressuring him for the rest of the money.
“On January 6, 2020, Bryan ran away – he fled,” recalls Stephanie. “At that point we didn’t know why he did it. As far as we were concerned, he left with some money and some things and left his ex-wife to pick up the pieces.
“He didn’t even pick up the kids from school. He just messaged his ex-wife and said go get the kids and he was gone. He was in the wind and we didn’t know why. He just ran away one day.”
Kennedy had fled to the UK and while he was away ‘AL’ called to his home and threatened his wife.
“It came out bit by bit that he ran away because there was a man threatening him and the man started threatening [Kennedy’s wife] saying awful things.
“At that point things started to piece together, mostly through ‘AL’. He would yell things at the door and during one of the confrontations he yelled something about how Bryan had tried to hire him to kill us. That was the first we heard of the plot.”
‘AL’ had pictures of the Canadian couple as well as their address and an image of their house.
“My friend [Kennedy’s wife] started getting pictures of the front door of our address and pictures of us that Bryan had sent ‘AL’, saying ‘these are the people I want dead, this is their address, this is their front door’.
“The day I found out I hugged my wife. We said ‘I love you’ and we hugged for 10 minutes because she had to go to work that day. It’s a habit we kept up since, because we didn’t know if any day would be our last.”
When he went missing, Kennedy’s sister handed items including phones and laptops to gardai. One of the items was a CD which gardai later found contained child pornography.
Kennedy later returned to Ireland and was charged with possession of child pornography and questioned about the murder plot.
He made full admissions that he had paid over €8,000 to ‘AL’ to have the Canadian couple killed but came under pressure for the rest of the money and started receiving threats himself.
Back in Canada, Stephanie and Clara were terrified they were going to be murdered.
“I still physically jump and hide when there is a knock on the door,” says Stephanie.
She said Kennedy’s ex-wife went a full week without sleep in 2020 after she found out about the plot.
“She was so terrified of a man pounding down their door and all that stuff.
“Bryan brought that down on his own family. He tried to hire a hitman and it blew up in his face so spectacularly.”
While Kennedy has now split from his ex-wife, he still visits her daily and is her carer as she suffers from a degenerative bone condition.
“He is the primary carer. It’s a bit of a cruel joke of the universe.
Kennedy said he is writing letters of apology to his victims and didn’t want to say too much more before his sentencing hearing.
“I wish I could give a full interview but I’ll save that for the judge if she asks for my personal feelings. That’s when it’s most needed, when I talk to the judge.”
Stephanie says his apology means little to her and Clara. “Having seen a lot of his actions for the past three years, I don’t trust his apologies as far as I could throw the man.”
In court this week, defending barrister Dominic McGinn SC 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 Caroline Biggs said she would read a probation report “line by line” before sentencing.