Toronto Star

Nov. 28, 02:00 EDT

Ralph Hadley's temper scary, lawyer testifies

Was observed getting angry at estranged wife

Peter Small
Toronto Star

Ralph Hadley's temper could go from "zero to 60" in a matter of seconds and "it could be really frightening," says a lawyer who represented the woman he killed.

Ken Dutka testified yesterday at an inquest into the June, 2000, murder-suicide of the Pickering couple that although Ralph was invariably polite to him even bringing him coffee to court he saw him lose his temper with his estranged wife Gillian.

"He was a very big man, about 250-280 (pounds)," Dutka said. "I am talking about tranquility to full-blown rage in two to three seconds."

It didn't last long, he added. "He had a very light complexion and he was literally scarlet for a few seconds and then it abated," Dutka told coroner's counsel Al O'Marra.

When Dutka came to represent Gillian in family law matters after the couple split up, the memory of Ralph's temper played a part in his appreciation of the "safety factor," he added, without elaborating.

Dutka, like two lawyers representing Ralph Hadley who have testified at the inquest, would not directly comment on his client to avoid breaching solicitor-client confidentiality.

The lawyer, a Port Perry resident with an extensive family law practice in Durham Region, said that from the media accounts he has read of the inquest, there has been little attention paid to the suicide part of the murder-suicide.

Sometimes men kill ex-spouses to control them, thinking "if they can't have her, no one will," Dutka said. But often it's from despondency and depression, he told Walter Fox, lawyer for Fathers Are Capable Too, a rights group for non-custodial parents.

"Until you get some sort of grip" on that problem, "I don't think you are going to prevent people from killing," he said.

Earlier letters showed opposite positions being taken by Ralph's lawyers on the issue of reconciling with Gillian in the days after he is alleged to have assaulted her on Jan. 7, 2000.

After he was charged, the couple was ordered not to communicate with each other.

On Jan. 10, Joanne Ferguson, Ralph's family lawyer, wrote Dutka to say that "there is no possibility of a reconciliation."

Two days later, Ralph's criminal lawyer, Graham Wakefield, wrote a letter to Dutka in which he indicated that Gillian "may wish to consider a reconciliation."

On Jan. 14, Dutka responded: "She is not interested in reconciliation or amendment of the bail terms."

Geri Sanson, lawyer for the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, read out a letter in court written by Dutka on behalf of Gillian on May 16, 2000.

He stated that Ralph was refusing to indicate whether he would accept Gillian's offer to use mediation to deal with the breakup of their marriage.

Dutka confirmed that Ralph didn't show up for a court date set to deal with child access and other issues. But he added that these issues were later dealt with "in some way."

The inquest continues.

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