Toronto Star

June 22, 2000

`The judicial system let wife down'

IN MEMORIAM:Neighbours Nowell Gordon, 18, and 3-year-old Alysha Gordon leave flowers yesterday in front of the Pickering home where Gillian Hadley was killed by her husband.

Restraining order had no impact as husband killed Gillian Hadley

By Hamida Ghafour, Jennifer Quinn and Stan Josey
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

KILLER:Ralph Hadley was in court at least twice in connection with harassing his estranged wife Gillian.
Gillian Hadley did what she could to keep herself and her kids safe, and she ended up dead.

When Ralph Hadley, her estranged husband, assaulted her, he was arrested.

When he stalked her and harassed her with phone calls in the middle of the night, there was a court order to keep him away.

But in the end, no one - not the courts, not her friends, not her will to live - could save Gillian Hadley from his rage.

``She was a beautiful person,'' a close friend, who didn't want his name used for personal reasons, said yesterday. ``Gillian was a wonderful person. She was an excellent mother. She loved her children to death. She loved all her friends. And the judicial system let her down.''

She was the second woman in two weeks to die in a murder-suicide at the hands of a former partner under a restraining order. Last week in Mississauga, 29-year-old Harjaap Bolla was killed by her former fiancé, Balbir Singh, their bodies found in a burned-out van in a parking lot.

On Tuesday, just before 9 a.m., Durham Region police rushed to Gillian's Hillcrest Rd. home in Pickering after neighbours reported a woman screaming.

The slightly-built mother of three - 5-foot-7 and about 106 pounds - ran from the house, her 11-month-old son in her arms. She passed Christopher Chase, who turns 1 this weekend, to a neighbour before Ralph dragged her back inside.

Two gunshots were heard. Three hours later, a police tactical team stormed the home and found two bodies. Yesterday, police confirmed they had each died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Among the flowers left outside the home yesterday was a bouquet of red carnations with a small card that read: ``To mom, I love you very much and I have loved you for eight years. And I will always have loved you . . . Your daughter, Faith. The words mite be wrong but I love you, mommy.''

Court records obtained by The Star show Gillian went before the courts more than once, looking for help. In January, 1999, Ralph was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, in relation to an incident involving Gillian's disabled 7-year-old son from her previous marriage.

As part of his bail conditions, Ralph was ordered to stay away from the child, except if supervised by another adult. The charge was eventually withdrawn.

A year later, last Jan. 7, Ralph was arrested for assaulting Gillian and breaking a peace bond. He was ordered to stay away from his estranged wife.

The court orders were clear and strict: ``Under no conditions and no circumstances'' was Ralph to go anywhere near her Hillcrest Rd. home, or the homes of her friends.

Court records show - and close friends confirm - the harassment continued.

``He was released on probation after the assault charges,'' Gillian's friend said. ``He then criminally harassed her by stalking her - parked in front of the house all night, hiding in the bushes, phone calls at all hours of the night.

`If he had been kept in jail this would not have happened. She was afraid of him, but he had left her alone for a couple of months. And she thought, ``Maybe everything was okay.'' '
- Kim Nicely, friend of Gillian Hadley

``She changed her phone number three times with an unlisted number and he had it in within a day.''

In February, Ralph was arrested and charged with criminal harassment, breaching the court order that kept him away from Gillian, and breaching a judge's order to ``keep the peace and be of good behaviour.''

He spent three days in jail, and the crown attorney opposed his release, Attorney-General Jim Flaherty said yesterday.

That was confirmed by Durham Region police spokesperson Sergeant Jim Grimley, who said when a person is arrested the natural course would be for them to stay in custody until trial. But people usually request to be released on bail or bond by promising to stay out of trouble and show up for their next court date.

``There is a reverse onus on the accused to prove that he should be released,'' Grimley said.

This time, Ralph's mother Christina bailed him out on a $5,000 surety. Under his bail conditions, Ralph wasn't allowed to go anywhere near Gillian. He was told to stay out of Pickering, and to live at his parents' Scarborough home.

And he was ordered to possess no firearms, explosives, or ammunition - a routine order for an accused person released on bail. Durham Region police say they didn't know Ralph, a postal worker, had a gun.

``If he had been kept in jail this would not have happened,'' said Kim Nicely, another of the young woman's close circle of friends. ``She was afraid of him, but he had left her alone for a couple of months. And she thought, `Maybe everything was okay.' ''

Ralph's terms of release ``had conditions galore that were meant to protect the victim,'' said Durham police Staff Sergeant Sal Naccarato. ``They are rules and unfortunately people break the rules. You can't keep a watch on these people 24 hours a day.''

Ralph Hadley's family refused to speak to The Star. A woman who answered the telephone at the family's home said: ``They can believe whatever they want.

``People who knew Ralph love him, people who knew Gill loved her. We don't want to talk to anyone right now. We are grieving,'' she said.

Gillian is described by friends as a loving mother who doted on her dogs - a golden retriever and a husky - and was looking forward to finding a new home in Port Perry.

Nicely, who was planning on house-hunting with her friend, said yesterday she left Gillian's home just minutes before the shooting.

``She seemed normal as she waved to me from a window,'' Nicely said.

But Nicely now believes that Ralph was either in the house or on his way in at that time. Neighbours reported seeing a man with a gun making his way through backyards around the time the friends were saying goodbye.

In Mississauga last week, 29-year-old Harjaap Bolla was ambushed by her former fiancé, Balbir Singh. Singh stabbed her several times, then drove her body to a parking lot, where he killed himself by setting the vehicle on fire.

He had been charged in March with criminal harassment against Bolla and agreed to a peace bond ordering him not to go near her or her family.

In February, 1999, Sandra Quigley, 32, of Scarborough was killed by Anton Lorenz, 41, her former boyfriend. They had resumed their relationship while he was under under a court order not to communicate with her. Last February he was found guilty of attempted murder and second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 10 years.

With files from Alison Blackduck and Elvira Cordileone

Contents copyright © 1996-2000, The Toronto Star.