Toronto Star

Oct. 24, 2001, 02:00 EDT

Officer went to wrong address

Police were 4 or 5 houses away from murder scene

Peter Small
The Toronto Star

The first officer to arrive just before shots rang out in the murder-suicide of a Pickering couple went to the wrong address due to an "unfortunate coincidence," an inquest jury has heard.

Instead of going to 865 Hillcrest Rd., he went to 865 West Shore Blvd., a mere four or five houses away, Ontario Provincial Police Detective Constable Mark Collins testified at an inquest into the deaths of Ralph and Gillian Hadley yesterday.

The brass numbers at 865 West Shore were large and noticeable and, as if to further confuse Durham Region police Constable Paul McCurbin, parked across the street from the wrong house was a white Thunderbird matching the description of car that was at first, erroneously, reported to be involved in the June 20, 2000, incident.

By that time, doors away, Ralph Hadley was in the process of winning a bizarre tug of war with two neighbours for his estranged wife who was naked and screaming at the front door of their former matrimonial home.

Seeing the police officer's mistake, Matt Darby, owner of the Thunderbird, went up to the police officer to say, ``No, it's up this way," Collins testified.

But at around that time neighbours heard a single gunshot — Gillian had been shot in the head. Moments later, Ralph, shot himself.

"We've heard gunshots," a shaken babysitter next door to 865 Hillcrest told a police dispatcher.

"The cops have driven by once. And I guess they didn't realize," she said.

The inquest, before Dr. Bonita Porter will hear from more than 70 witnesses and will look into issues surrounding their death, including the fact that Ralph had repeatedly breached probation orders for him to keep away from his wife.

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