Monday, October 22, 2001

Domestic homicide predictable: lawyer

TORONTO -- A lawyer at the first day of an inquest into the murder-suicide of a southern Ontario couple said Monday she had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach because female domestic homicide "is both predictable and preventable.''

Geri Sanson represented the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Housing at a similar inquest several years ago when another couple died in a murder-suicide after years of domestic abuse.

"Here we are two years later and it doesn't appear the rate of intimate femicide has decreased in Ontario,'' Sanson said.

The association intends to highlight the inadequacy of resources for women looking to escape violence by their domestic partners as well as the relationship between domestic abuse and poverty, Sanson said, since they are issues that haven't received enough attention in the past.

Dr. Peter Jaffe, a psychologist specializing in domestic violence, told the inquest Monday that between 70 and 80 women have been killed by their partner in Canada every year for the past 10 years.

"Usually, violence in intimate relationships is one of the best-kept secrets in Canada . . . and for the most part there tends to be very few negative consequences or sanctions,'' said Jaffe, who also testified at the 1998 inquest into the murder-suicide deaths of Arlene May and Randy Iles.

Jaffe echoed Sanson's belief that fatal domestic violence can be predicted before it happens, and quoted Statistics Canada research showing 28 per cent of homicides are committed by an estranged partner, as Ralph Hadley was to his wife Gillian when he dragged her -- naked and fleeing -- back into their home and shot her in the head before shooting himself.

Jaffe also cited studies saying perpetrators under a court order to stay away from a victim -- as was Ralph Hadley -- are twice as likely to end up committing homicide than someone not under such a court order.

The inquest into the June 2000 deaths of the Hadleys is expected to call on family members of the couple, representatives from the Children's Aid Society, the John Howard Society and the parenting association Fathers are Capable Parents Too.

It is expected to examine the broader issues of domestic violence, such as why restraining orders are not adequately enforced and even the impact of poor accessibility to affordable housing on single parents.

Gillian Hadley was gunned down June 20, 2000, by her estranged husband shortly after she handed the couple's one-year-old child to a neighbour.

The grisly scene played in the Toronto suburb of Pickering, Ont., as the 35-year-old mother of three ran naked and screaming from her home.

She managed to hand her infant son to a neighbour before she was dragged back inside by Ralph Hadley, who was armed with a gun and under court order to stay away from the area.

Shots were fired and police later stormed the home to find the pair dead from gun-shot wounds.

Behind the Hadley home police also found Ralph Hadley's bag, which he had left outside the home before breaking in through a rear window.

The bag contained 13 pairs of women's underwear, a pornographic magazine, three rolls of duct tape, surgical gloves, a dog collar with a ring on it engraved with the Hadley's Oct. 1997 wedding date, nylon rope, pliers and a six-page letter written by Ralph Hadley, among other things.

"It may well be that he had more in mind than the murder of Gillian Hadley,'' said Crown attorney Al O'Marra, characterizing the articles in the bag as "disturbing.''

In July 1998, an inquest jury made 213 recommendations regarding the systemic problems of domestic violence after hearing evidence about the deaths of Arlene May and Randy Iles, also the victims of murder-suicide.

The Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario has said that 95 per cent of those recommendations have been or are in the process of being implemented.

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