Toronto Star

Jan. 26, 01:00 EDT

Bail changes suggested at inquest

Woman abuse `like no other crime,' jury told

Peter Small
Staff reporter
Toronto Star

Ontario's women's shelters are urging an inquest jury looking into the murder-suicide of Ralph and Gillian Hadley to recommend that friends, family or co-workers of men accused of assaulting a woman never be accepted as bail guarantors.

"Domestic violence is like no other crime," Geri Sanson, lawyer for the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, said yesterday. "When mistakes are made, women die."

In contrast to other crimes, victims of such assaults are often forced to come into contact with their tormenters repeatedly, Sanson noted.

On June 20, 2000, Ralph Hadley, 34, broke into the Pickering home he once shared with Gillian, 35, and shot the mother of three in the head, then killed himself.

Four months earlier, he had been let out on bail under his mother's supervision, while facing charges of criminally harassing his estranged wife.

"I don't know that ... she could have done anything different," Sanson said of the mother. "To place the burden on Christina Hadley or any other family member is simply intolerable."

Durham police also recommended that relatives be barred from being bail sureties.

But coroner's counsel Al O'Marra said forbidding judges from naming co-workers, family and friends as bail sureties would impinge on their independence and amount to a blanket denial of bail. What's crucial is that sureties know the importance of their obligations, he said.

O'Marra, speaking in part for presiding coroner Bonita Porter, recommended that a Domestic Violence Death Review Committee of experts be created to help the coroner's office probe such deaths, "so that when tragedies occur, lessons can be learned quickly" without an inquest.

He and Sanson recommended that the period of time a woman has been separated from her abusive mate not be the determining factor as to who gets top priority for subsidized housing. Abused women separated for more than 90 days are barred from being put at the top of the list.

Durham police lawyer Brain Fazackerley urged better police training on domestic violence. He also urged that crown attorneys be given two hours preparation time for every contested bail hearing. Frank Giordano, the assistant crown at Ralph Hadley's bail hearing, had had limited time to brief himself on 19 cases that day.

In her charge to the jurors before they began considering recommendations, Porter urged the three men and two women to use common sense.

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