Toronto Star

Oct. 23, 2001, 02:00 EDT

Hadley likely had more than murder on his mind

Carried bag with bizarre contents, inquest told

Peter Small
The Toronto Star

Gillian and Ralph Hadley, shown at their 1997 wedding.
When Ralph Hadley snuck into the backyard of the Pickering home he had only months earlier shared with his estranged wife Gillian, he likely had more on his mind than her murder.

He dropped a satchel outside the home before he broke in. Among its contents were a knife, tools, lighter fluid, duct tape, rope, surgical gloves, a pornographic magazine, 13 pairs of women's underwear and a dog collar attached by a metal loop to a wedding band engraved with the date of the couple's October, 1997 nuptials.

Also enclosed was a tape recording of his thoughts and a written last statement, the inquest into the couple's murder-suicide has heard.

As the inquest began yesterday, crown counsel Al O'Marra would not speculate what Ralph Hadley's other intentions were as he entered the home on 865 Hillcrest Rd., before shooting Gillian and then himself with a 25-calibre semi-automatic handgun.

"I think certain inferences can be drawn from the nature of the articles," O'Marra said. "I will leave it at this point for you to draw those inferences, or more particularly the jury."

The inquest before Dr. Bonita Porter was not wanted by either of the couple's parents, O'Marra told reporters. "That's understandable. They would rather not have the inquest because no doubt it will lead to some pain."

But the coroner's office reviewed the circumstances of their deaths and determined that it was necessary to devote another inquest to the problems of domestic violence, augmenting the results of an earlier inquest, O'Marra said.

That inquest, into to the 1996 killing of Arlene May by her ex-boyfriend Randy Iles, who then killed himself, came out with 213 recommendations to curb domestic violence.

After Porter told the five jurors that their task is not to assign blame but to inquire into the circumstances of the deaths, O'Marra reviewed what the evidence is expected to show.

On June 20, 2000, just before 9 a.m., neighbours John and Ann Wallace saw a group of people on Gillian Hadley's front lawn. The group told the Wallaces they had just seen a man drag a naked woman into the house, O'Marra said. What they didn't know was that Ralph, 35 who six months earlier had been ordered by a court for a second time to have no contact with Gillian, also 35 had forced his way into the home through a rear window, surprising her in the bathroom.

John Wallace knocked on the front door and, when Ralph opened it, Gillian tried to rush past. But Ralph blocked her way, saying, "She's psychotic and can't leave," O'Marra told court.

Gillian, their 11-month-old baby Chase in her arms, pleaded for help.

She dropped Chase, and Ann Wallace spirited him away to safety. As Gillian tried to flee from her husband's grip, John Wallace and another neighbour pulled at her arm. But when Ralph produced the handgun, the two men momentarily relaxed their grip and he shut the door. Moments later, he shot Gillian in the head. Then he walked into the bedroom and shot himself, O'Marra said.

The couple had grown up on the same Scarborough street, and their parents were close friends. They married after Gillian divorced her first husband, Michael Ferraz, in 1996.

Gillian had two children, Faith Leila and Michael, born severely disabled, in her first marriage.

Although happy at first, Ralph and Gillian's relationship soon deteriorated. Ralph was charged with criminal neglect and causing bodily harm to Michael and, in February, 1999, the Durham Region's Children's Aid Society removed the boy from their home. Ralph's charges were resolved in December when he accepted a peace bond to stay away from the boy.

The couple had another child, Chase, in June. But the marriage didn't improve, and Gillian began secretly seeing another man.

Ralph moved out. But when he found out about the new boyfriend, he became enraged and confronted her, slapping her and slamming her head into a brick wall, O'Marra said. She contacted police and on Jan. 8, 2000, Ralph was charged with assault, breach of recognizance and breach of peace bond. He was released on a promise to appear and was ordered to have no contact with her or the home. He broke those conditions, even sneaking into their home. Gillian contacted police, and in February he faced several charges, including criminal harassment and other charges.

He was granted bail and ordered again not to contact Gillian. He was slapped with tough rules, including being ordered to live with his parents.

Ralph attended anger management courses, while Gillian tried to find another place to live. But early on June 20, 2000, he stuffed his bed to make it look to his parents that he was sleeping and secretly took a cab to a street behind his former Pickering home, with a handgun and his bag filled with its strange contents.

The inquest will hear from more than 70 witnesses and is expected to take at least eight weeks.

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