Toronto Star

Feb. 9, 01:00 EDT

Case spurs shelter plan

Peter Small
Staff reporter
Toronto Star

For Durham Region Constable Cheryl Carter, there was good news this week about something that may prevent deaths like Gillian Hadley's.

On Monday, the town of Ajax accepted a $620,000 offer from the Ajax-Pickering Women's Centre, which Carter heads, to buy a former police station for rebirth as a 25-bed women's shelter. It's still subject to rezoning.

"Now," she said, "it depends on the public's goodwill."

A shelter just 6 kilometres from Gillian Hadley's Pickering home might not have saved her life, but had it existed in June, 2000, at least she would have had a safe place to go with her disabled son, Mikey, and two other children, Carter said. The closest shelter was in Oshawa, 20 kilometres away, and was not accessible to the disabled.

Gillian's death, Carter said, "made me angry." The previous February, the constable had charged Ralph Hadley, 34, with criminal harassment and breaching judicial orders. But he still broke into his wife's home, shooting her in the head before killing himself.

"I've never lost anybody before," Carter said. "It frustrated me to think that this was preventable. I said, `This can't happen again.'" The Hadley case strengthened Carter's determination to see a local women's shelter built. She joined the board of the women's centre and was elected president.

Gillian's murder was a shock to the town, as were four other domestic-violence deaths in the past two years, Carter said. "Our community is really hurt, and they want to be productive." That's a reason the centre raised $400,000 in two months. This week, Ajax council knocked $20,500 off the price.

The shelter's $2.2 million capital funding and $850,000 operating budget are already approved. It will be the first in Ontario to have police present in the building, Carter said. "I want to get word out to the community that (women) can come here."

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