Toronto Star

Nov. 29, 02:00 EDT

Hadley couldn't be judged by his cover

Jim Coyle
Toronto Star

HOW DO YOU spot a killer? Who can see depravity in a soul? Don't murderers sometimes appear in the pleasing form and manners of a Ted Bundy, or in the familiar person of the neighbour next door?

"There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face," King Duncan lamented in Macbeth.

When a crown attorney was asked recently to recall Ralph Hadley's bail hearing in February, 2000, he remembered no bizarre behaviour, no claims by the man to be Napoleon, nothing like that. And though another lawyer did remember Hadley as having had a frightening temper, able to go scarlet in the face and from tranquility to rage in seconds, might that not as easily describe Mel Lastman?

Not all hotheads are killers. Not all of the meek and mild aren't.

"All persons are potential murderers," writes criminal lawyer Eddie Greenspan in the forward to Howard Engel's new book Crimes of Passion.

"Needing only circumstances and a sufficiently overwhelming emotion that will triumph over the restraint that education and habit have built up to control the powerful surging instincts and feelings that sometimes overwhelm men and women. Status, money, power, sex, love, jealousy - the stuff of life - are usually the stuff of murder."

In June, 2000, Ralph Hadley, a 34-year-old postal worker, broke into the Pickering home of his estranged wife Gillian, chased her naked into the street, forced her back inside, shot her to death, then killed himself.

No one saw it coming. But as the inquest into those deaths hears day by day, several people did see much that alarmed them. For if we remain as unable as in Shakespeare's time to read the mind by the face, it seems the tutored can tell rather a lot from thoughts expressed, attitudes demonstrated, conduct observed.

Hadley had assaulted his wife in January, 2000, after finding her in bed with another man. Though ordered by the courts not to contact her, he continued to harass and stalk her in the weeks that followed. To the police officer who charged him with three more counts in February, this behaviour was significant evidence of both Hadley's need for control and a dangerous disregard for the law.

A young crown attorney specializing in domestic violence was asked her opinion on the case. And she, too, saw cause for worry. Megan Allen told the inquest yesterday she was struck by the details of Hadley's discovery of his wife and her lover.

He'd been told where to find the pair, walked in and caught them having sex. But he did not explode into the spontaneous rage of betrayal. He remained calm, spoke softly, walked out, waited for his wife to emerge, spoke to her - then slapped her, pulled her hair, banged her head against a wall. Then, he went back in and told the man she'd been with of the assault.

"It was much more controlled and planned," Allen said. "He waited until he had her alone. ... This is not really a spontaneous reaction at all." It was as if, rather, he was re-establishing control over his property.

She recommended the crown seek a jail term of up to 60 days.

During the time he was awaiting trial, Hadley attended an anger-management program at the John Howard Society. There, Patricia Andrus was his counsellor. And yesterday she described the many difficulties getting through to her client.

One of the first things he told her was that he didn't have a problem with anger, she said. From the day he arrived in March until the program ended 10 weeks later, he continued to speak of himself as the victim. He rationalized and justified all he had done. He insisted he had high morals, she said, while his wife was "a slut and a tramp." He could not identify any problems in his childhood, Andrus said, since he considered his family home to have been idyllic. Though his wife's family, he said, was dysfunctional.

Hadley could not understand why everyone was picking on him - from the children's aid worker who was making trouble over a previous case of suspected child abuse, to the police who'd charged him, to the neighbours who reported seeing him outside Gillian's home.

"It wasn't fair," he apparently said. "I'm the victim here."

He told Andrus there was no need for him to stalk Gillian because his cousin still lived in the basement of the matrimonial home and kept him informed of her activities, her visitors, even her phone calls. Alarmed, Andrus refused to work further with him unless he signed a contract promising that such behaviour would stop.

"I couldn't help but think there were real power issues, justification, rationalization issues," she said. "And he had a very difficult time seeing that."

She found Hadley a rigid thinker, in denial about aspects of his life and conduct, unable to take ownership of his role in things, unable to get on with life. Several times she recommended other programs that men in similar straits found useful. Invariably, he said he couldn't get time off work.

During this period, Andrus had requests from the CAS worker - alarmed about Hadley's stalking - asking that she write a letter saying Ralph Hadley was a threat to his wife. From Hadley's lawyer, she had a request that she write a letter saying he wasn't.

She wrote neither. She was not sufficiently educated in domestic violence, she said. While his progress was negligible, she'd never heard him make threats.

"I was really surprised (to learn) that he had done what he did."

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

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