Durham Region

Doctor testifies Hadley 'snapped' weeks before murder

Jan. 11, 2002
Ajax News Advertiser

DURHAM -- Although Ralph Hadley's murder of his wife appeared to be well planned, it was likely the result of him snapping under accumulated stresses a few weeks earlier, a psychiatrist told an inquest into the Pickering murder-suicide yesterday.

"I think the snapping or major change occurred about two or three weeks before the murder," testified Dr. Harold Merskey, a practising psychiatrist and professor emeritus at the University of Western Ontario.

"It was the result of cumulative stresses," he told Walter Fox, lawyer for Fathers Are Capable Too, which had called him to testify.

On June 20, 2000, Mr. Hadley, 34, broke into the Pickering home he had once shared with his 35-year-old wife Gillian. He shot her in the head with an illegal handgun before killing himself.

Dr. Merskey's testimony contradicts an earlier witness, Dr. Peter Collins, a forensic psychiatrist working with the Ontario Provincial Police, who testified last month he did not believe people just snap.

But Dr. Merskey testified Mr. Hadley's stress build-up started with his arrest and charge more than a year earlier for criminal negligence causing bodily harm to his disabled stepson, and was fuelled by many problems, including the "betrayal by his wife".

Mr. Hadley caught Mrs. Hadley in bed with another man Jan. 7, 2000, and then assaulted her, evidence has shown.

Dr. Collins had said he did not feel Mr. Hadley had any psychiatric illness or was really depressed, despite a diagnosis by his family doctor that he was.

In cross-examining Dr. Merskey, coroner's counsel Al O'Marra suggested Mr. Hadley's plans to kill his wife were deliberate, as they included a written list of steps, and a taped last testament.

The inquest continues Monday.