Toronto Star

Nov. 6, 01:00 EDT

Hadleys a tale for trash TV

Jim Coyle
Toronto Star

Toronto Star Photo

BOYFRIEND: Clark Kostyshyn, seen outside court, testified he wasn't aware Gillian Hadley was married until her husband caught th(em.)
TV'S JERRY Springer show would seem to have nothing on the spectacle being played out in recent days down at coroner's court on Grosvenor St.

There, an inquest investigating the murder-suicide of Gillian and Ralph Hadley two summers ago in Pickering has been treated to a story of cheating and sleaze, liars and layabouts, spies and gossips, slander and misogyny. And there, yesterday, the jury had the singular pleasure of meeting Clark Kostyshyn.

Kostyshyn was the third corner of the love triangle that ended so horrifically on June 20, 2000. Though to use the word "love" in any connection with this sad, selfish affair is to play loose with the language.

Ralph Hadley was a 34-year-old postal worker who seems to have had a crush on Gillian since they were teenagers. They grew up on the same Scarborough street. In 1987, she got married. She had two children. But by 1996, she and her first husband had separated.

In short order, she hooked up with Ralph. They moved in together. By October, 1997, they were married. In June, 1999, they had a son of their own. But already the marriage was rocky. There had been a charge against Ralph over mysterious bruising on Gillian's disabled son from her first marriage, and the child had been taken into care. There were also money troubles. And in the fall of 1999, Gillian had gone back to work.

Enter Clark Kostyshyn.

He's 42 now, shortish, squattish, dirty blond hair thinning on top, long and lank behind. He has a little moustache and, he said, a bad back. "I do a lot of lying on the couch."

Evidently, in November, 1999, Gillian and her half-sister Lisa Parish decided on a girls' night out though not the sort many might understand such excursions by married women, both mothers, to mean.

Kostyshyn told the inquest yesterday he spotted Gillian smiling at him from the bar of an Oshawa nightclub. He introduced himself. They danced a few times. He offered her a lift home. Lisa seemed intent, as he recalled it, on picking up a friend of his named Andy. That couple came along.

Kostyshyn took the group back to the basement apartment in which he lived in a house he shared with his brother. They had some drinks, played some pool. Before long, Lisa and her new friend were kissing and fondling each other. Kostyshyn and Gillian, embarrassed at this, repaired to his bedroom, the better that they would not have to watch.

Well, "one thing led to another," he said. And he and Gillian ended up having sex. When they emerged, they found Lisa and Andy engaged in sex on the apartment floor.

The frolicking quartet could hardly have imagined the horrible train of events being set in motion.

As such things do, it got very complicated very fast. Gillian had given Clark her sister Lisa's cellphone number. He began trying to reach Gillian, leaving messages for someone he addressed what else? as "Babe." Lisa's husband, Brian, picked up the messages and was, understandably, disturbed.

Gillian and Kostyshyn saw each other several times before Christmas. They had a getaway over the holidays to Orillia which might explain why Ralph Hadley's family found Gillian out of sorts at family gatherings, why Ralph's sister got a gift from her sister-in-law that seemed a last-minute thing, and why Gillian was noticed not wearing her wedding ring.

On the morning of Jan. 7, 2000, Lisa and Brian Parish who worked with Gillian on the night shift at an envelope company figured she was sneaking off after work to meet Kostyshyn. They followed her to his house, then went back and woke Ralph to tell him what they'd learned. Then, they led him to Kostyshyn's house, where Hadley walked in and found the couple having sex.

Gillian Hadley had never told Kostyshyn she was married. She told him later it was because she was afraid to lose him. She assured him, he testified, that she had repeatedly told Hadley the marriage was over, that her husband simply hadn't listened. She had apparently been planning that very day, Kostyshyn said, to march over to Ralph's parents and tell them.

In any event, Ralph Hadley slapped his wife when she emerged from Kostyshyn's house. Then he went back, knocked on the door and told Kostyshyn what he had done. Later that day, he talked to Kostyshyn for more than an hour on the phone.

For a time, Kostyshyn said, he "kind of felt sorry for the man." But when Ralph began badmouthing Gillian and asking what he was going to tell the boys at work about getting divorced, Kostyshyn "lost any respect that I had for him."

As a result of the slap, Hadley was charged with assault and removed from the matrimonial home. That February, he was charged with criminal harassment and released into the custody of his parents with the order that he not be in public unsupervised and not communicate with his wife.

Kostyshyn and Gillian continued seeing each other, he arriving at her house at night, after she had put the kids to bed, and leaving before they awoke. But bad things were happening.

Almost everyone in Ralph's and Gillian's families sided with Ralph. In fact, when Gillian visited her father to explain that Lisa should hardly be speaking ill of her, given Lisa's own performance that night, Gillian's dad threw her physically from his house and told her not to come back.

Ralph's cousin with whom he and Gillian had bought their house continued to live in the basement. He was, by Kostyshyn's lights, unlikeable. He lived like a hermit, Kostyshyn said, did nothing but play video games, and was rarely without a beer in his hands.

What the cousin also seems to have been doing was keeping a log on Gillian's activities and reporting back to Ralph. Lisa and Brian did so too. Kostyshyn suspects they were responsible for a taunting note written, he said, in lipstick or crayon that was left on his car outside Gillian's house.

"We decided we weren't going to stoop to their level," Kostyshyn said repeatedly yesterday.

Ralph Hadley was harassing them on and off and slowly coming undone. At the post office, his workmates put off by Hadley's loud, opinionated manner were growing sick of him whining about his marital woes.

In the locker room, during breaks, Ralph would call Gillian a bitch and talk about how his next woman would have bigger breasts, two former colleagues recalled yesterday.

One, Steve Balfour, admitted to suggesting that shooting her and doing a few years in prison would probably be cheaper than the legal costs associated with divorce. "It was a joke," he testified. "We were all throwing in stupid comments. That was the one I made."

On June 19, 2000, Leonard Blacklock, another postal employee, noticed Hadley around the premises even though he wasn't scheduled to work. Hadley was leaning into the driver's side of a truck. He ignored Blacklock's greeting. He seemed to be putting something in a knapsack, said Blacklock, who had never seen him carry such a bag. Hadley had cleaned out his locker and paid up the debts he owed to locker-room card sharks.

On June 20, he woke in his parents' home, stuffed his bed with teddy bears to make it look occupied, then called a cab. He was dropped near Gillian's home.

An hour later, they both were dead.

Jim Coyle's column usually appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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