Globe and Mail

Jury calls for protection of women

Society in general shares responsibility for battered wife's death, panel decides

The Globe and Mail

Ralph Hadley may have pulled the trigger, but everyone -- the Ontario government, the police, the courts and society in general -- shares some responsibility for the death of his battered wife, Gillian, a coroner's jury that has called for sweeping changes to protect women from abusive partners concluded.

Past provincial decisions loomed large in the recommendations.

The jury said the Ontario government should provide new funding immediately for sufficient subsidized housing in each community. (The province got out of the housing business in 1995.)

It also said the province should increase the housing allowance for women and children escaping abusive homes, and pay to ensure those children can go safely to and from school. (The Progressive Conservative government cut welfare rates by 21.6 per cent after it took office.)

At the inquest, the jury heard that there was no low-cost housing where Ms. Hadley could have escaped on her limited income of about $800 a month.

The five jurors said their 58 recommendations, if implemented, could compensate for the grief of the three Hadley children, who lost both parents in a murder-suicide, by preventing similar tragedies.

The jury released its recommendations yesterday after deliberating for two weeks on evidence heard over 42 days. It was asked to look into the death of Ms. Hadley, 35, at the hands of her estranged husband on June 20, 2000. Mr. Hadley, 34, had been charged with assaulting her a few months earlier. He was out on bail on condition he stay away from her and their matrimonial home in Pickering, Ont., a town east of Toronto.

The recommendations include:

Placing the onus on the accused in domestic-violence cases to prove why he or she should get bail;

Holding in custody an accused who violates bail conditions;

Setting up a provincial domestic-violence bail program with specially trained Crown attorneys and police officers to provide advice on bail hearings;

Establishing a police system to notify victims of the date and time of bail hearings;

Holding bail hearings in domestic abuse cases on weekends and holidays;

Reducing the time between bail hearing and trial;

Looking at making electronic monitoring a condition of bail;

Organizing provincial and regional conferences on domestic abuse within the next six months.

John Wallace was there the morning Ms. Hadley died. A neighbour, he saw Mr. Hadley drag his naked wife outside their house at gunpoint. While he tried to reason with him, Mr. Wallace's wife, Ana, snatched the Hadleys' 11-month-old child to safety. But he could not stop Mr. Hadley from dragging his wife into the house and to her death. Mr. Hadley then shot himself.

Yesterday, Mr. Wallace urged everyone to support the recommendations in order to help the 40 women who are killed by abusive partners each year in Ontario.

The software developer's eyes filled with tears as he recalled the last time he saw Ms. Hadley alive.

"I saw a lady fight for her life that day. I heard her groan when she was dragged back into the house. She knew it was all over."

The parties to the inquest applauded the recommendations yesterday but admitted that the money factor may keep some from being implemented.

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