Toronto Star

Nov. 24, 02:00 EDT

Hadley tragedy increases vigilance

Crown less likely to consent to bail in abuse cases: Lawyer

Peter Small
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star

Ever since Ralph Hadley shot his wife Gillian before committing suicide in Pickering, crown attorneys in Durham Region have become much less likely to consent to bail for men accused of domestic violence, an inquest has heard.

"It's become an even tougher battle to even advocate for release in a bail court," Graham Wakefield, who had acted as Hadley's lawyer, told an inquest into the couple's murder-suicide yesterday.

The trend, which started after the 1998 inquest into the murder-suicide of Arlene May and Randy Iles, has greatly intensified with the Hadley deaths, Wakefield told coroner's counsel Al O'Marra.

In Hadley's case, the 35-year-old postal worker shot his estranged wife with an illegal handgun on June 20, 2000, after having been granted bail on Feb. 28 on charges of criminal harassment, and breaching two court orders to keep the peace and have no contact with Gillian.

He had previously been charged on Jan. 7 with assault and breaching that same peace bond after slapping her and bashing her head against a wall.

He was freed pending trial in that case.

As it was, the bail conditions imposed on Hadley on Feb. 28 were the most stringent Wakefield had ever seen for the charges his client faced, the defence lawyer testified.

A justice of the peace freed Hadley on $5,000 bail and ordered him to live in his parents' Scarborough home.

He could only leave if under their direct or indirect supervision.

He couldn't even use the phone at the Eastern Ave. postal sorting plant where he worked unless it was for employment purposes.

A person convicted of the same five charges Hadley faced would typically be sentenced to no more than six months in jail, but more likely four months, Wakefield testified.

While Wakefield avoided direct comment on Hadley's case so as not to breach solicitor-client privilege, he explained that in Durham Region it takes anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 months for a case to come to trial if the accused is held in jail.

He also noted that judges generally reduce two days of a convicted person's sentence for every day spent in pre-trial custody.

Wakefield testified that he learned in June that the crown would be seeking a jail sentence for all five charges. On June 20, his client broke into the couple's former matrimonial home in Pickering and shot Gillian, then himself.

The inquest continues Monday.

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