Toronto Star

December 6, 2001

Hadley added anxiety to abuse

Depression and feelings of dread preceded murder

Toronto Star

In the months before Ralph Hadley shot his wife and then himself, he was emotionally abusing her. But he was also having anxiety attacks, imagining returning home to find that everyone had disappeared, a family counsellor says.

After he screamed, "I can't stand to look at your face," Gillian Hadley reported she was badly hurt emotionally, Birgit Van Helsdingen, a Durham family services counsellor, told an inquest into the June, 2000, murder-suicide.

But in one counselling session on Oct. 28, 1999, he seemed depressed, crying continuously, saying he had a feeling about "not being able to leave the house and go to work because he felt that something bad might happen," Van Helsdingen testified yesterday.

He had a "feeling of dread ... that he would come home and the family was not there."

Gillian, then 34, contacted family services in fall, 1999. An intake worker red-flagged the file because Ralph had been charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm to Mikey, Gillian's disabled son.

A court had ordered that Mikey could not live with Ralph, and Gillian felt she had been forced to choose between them. She picked Ralph, believing he had not abused Mikey.

But Gillian said that Ralph "screams his head off, he is so angry, Van Helsdingen said. While emotionally abused, Gillian didn't feel in danger.

At Gillian's first visit with Van Helsdingen, on Sept. 24, 1999, she said she was hurt that Ralph didn't think they had the money to fight to get Mikey back. She felt he was focused only on his own stress.

On Oct. 26, Gillian said he was depressed and that "every little thing was bothering him." In December, she was upset he had signed a peace bond keeping him away from Mikey, thus failing to prove his innocence to her by fighting the charge.

On Jan. 14, Ralph admitted assaulting her after catching her with another man, but portrayed himself as the victim.

"He said he would never have assaulted her if she had told him outright that she was having an affair and that she wanted a separation," Van Helsdingen said of their last session, Feb. 4. "I told him that she would have never done that because she was afraid of him." The inquest resumes Monday.

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