When on March 8, 1996 Randy Isles shot and killed his enstranged common-law wife, Arlene May, then killed himself, the incident shocked the community of Oshawa, Ontario. However, as the coroner’s inquest verdict reveals, his behaviour could be anticipated and many arms of the justice system failed to keep both he and Arlene May safe.
This verdict reinforces what feminists have been stating for years: male violence against women does not occur in isolation, and sexist biases in society enable the violence to continue. You will find below the explanation of the coroner’s inquest verdict into the case that has become known as May/Isles. You can link to the full text from here. For reasons of space we have chosen to include only the explanation on our site.
For the full report prepared by the office of the chief coroner of Ontario or the verdict and recommendation write to:
Office of the Chief Coroner
Coroner’s Bldg. 2nd Floor
26Grenville Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2G9
February – July 1998
Toronto, Ontario
I intend to give a brief synopsis of issues presented at this inquest, I would like to stress that much of this will be my interpretation of the evidence and also my interpretation of the jury’s reasons. The sole purpose for this is to assist the reader to more fully understand the verdict and recommendations of the jury and is not intended to be considered as actual evidence presented at the inquest. It is in no way intended to replace the jury’s verdict.
The inquest began on February 16, 1998, the jury returned their verdict and recommendations on July 2, 1998 after 10 days of deliberation.
Counsel to the Coroner                Mr. A. O’Marra
Parties with standing:
Ministry of the Attorney General             Counsel Mr. T. Marshall
Mr. W. Myrka
Ministry of the Solicitor General
and Correctional Services           Counsel Mr. E. Maksimowski
Mr. J. Lipman
Ms. S. Freeborn
Township of Collingwood and
Collingwood Police Service        Counsel Mr. T. Merrifield
Ontario Crown Attorney’s Association   Counsel Mr. D. Humphries
Metropolitan Action Committee
on Violence Against Women and
Children (METRAC) and Ontario
Association of Interval and Transition
Houses (OAITH)                Counsel Ms. G. Sanson
Ms. F. Sampson
Mrs. D. Iles
Ms. P. May
Investigating officers:   Ontario Provincial Police
Det. Insp. D. MeGillis
Det. Const. M. Barber
Coroner’s Constables:   Const. E. Drummond
Const. B. Waterhouse
Court Reporter:                Ms. L. Retzer (416) 266-3323
Synopsis of the relationship and the events leading to death
Randy Joseph Iles was 36 years old at the time of his death. He was married at the time to his third wife.
His past history included criminal convictions for indecent exposure, harassing phone calls, breach of probation, possession of stolen property, and a weapons offense for which he received a five year prohibition order. His previous marriages had produced two children. Upon dissolution of these marriages there were instances of child abduction, stalking, threatening with a weapon, and custody disputes in Family Court.
Randy adopted the three children of his third wife and they had another child. In 1994 Randy began an intimate relationship with Arlene May, a cousin of his wife. Arlene became pregnant. The violence appears to have begun during the pregnancy. In the fall of 1995 the pregnancy ended with the delivery of a stillborn infant.
On November 14,1995 an assault occurred. Arlene reported it to the police on November 20 after visiting a Woman’s Shelter and being encouraged to seek medical treatment and report the events to the police. The attached chart indicates the sequence of court appearances and outcomes( see Appendix A).
Randy Iles’ final appearance before the courts occurred on February 29, 1996. He was released on condition that he leave the jurisdiction. At the time of his release, there was a warrant for his arrest in the neighbouring jurisdiction (Simcoe County).
This warrant information had been entered on his criminal record February 27,19916 The CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) record that was made available to the court in Grey county at his appearance of February 29th had been printed on the 26th of February and therefore the outstanding Simcoe warrant did not appear.
Randy and his family moved to the Oshawa area. On March 6 another warrant was issued in Grey County for breaching his recognizance by communicating with Arlene May. In an attempt to find Randy, his lawyer was contacted by the police in this jurisdiction about the outstanding warrant. Randy was advised about the most recent warrant by his counsel on March 7, 1996.
The next morning Randy purchased a gun from a store in Oshawa. He had not been asked to surrender his FAC (Firearms Acquisition Certificate) although this had been a condition of bail as stated by the court. This condition was not recorded on his recognizance of bail papers and the FAC was still in his possession.
Randy rented a van and drove to home of Arlene May. He awaited the arrival of Arlene and one of her children. Two other children were already at the house. Arlene arrived in the early afternoon and Randy forced her into the house.
The three children were barricaded in a closet for hours. A young child asked to go to the bathroom. Randy allowed her to go. After a period of time, when she did not return, the other two children forced their way out of the closet. Randy ordered all three to go to the corner store and call the police. They last they saw of their mother was her sitting on her bed, crying, telling them to go.
The police responded to the home. They were unable to establish contact, and at approximately 23:40 they entered the home and found both Randy and Arlene deceased in her bedroom.
The evidence was presented the jury in phases:
1. History of the background of Arlene May and Randy Iles and their relationship
2. The issues of Domestic Violence
3. The response of the Police Services to the reports of the violence
4. The response of the Crown Attorneys and the Courts to the allegations of the violence
5. The community supports available to Arlene
The jury heard from 76 witnesses over 51 days of evidence.
They heard from surviving members of the May and Iles families. They heard from the police who responded to the incidents of the violence, from the court officers and the Crown Attorneys who dealt with the matters in the Courts of two jurisdictions. They heard from the lawyer who acted for Randy Iles at some of his court appearances.
They heard about problems in the gathering, recording, sharing and reviewing information and how these problems contributed to the final outcome.
They heard from the workers at the shelter where Arlene sought safety on two occasions and heard possible explanations for why she did not go back.
They heard about police, court staff and Crown Attorney training. They heard about the training offered to members of the judiciary.
Evidence was presented about the broad issue of Domestic Violence. The jury heard how the perception of violence in intimate relationships is changing, how this type of violence differs from other crimes of violence. They heard evidence about the cycle of violence within a relationship and from generation to generation.
The jury returned with 213 recommendations requesting in their opening statement a Zero Tolerance of Domestic Violence, recognition of the unique aspects of Domestic Violence as a crime, and a goal of a « Seamless » program across Ontario for victims of this crime.
The jury’s recommendations are self- explanatory. Should any further clarification be required please contact me.
In closing, I would like to stress once again that this document was prepared solely for the purpose of assisting interested parties in understanding the jury verdict. It is worth repeating that it is not the verdict. Likewise many of the comments regarding the evidence are my personal recollection of the same and are not put forth as actual evidence. IF any party feels that I made a gross error in my recollection of the evidence, it would be greatly appreciated if it could be brought to my attention and I will gladly correct the error.
Dr. Bonita Porter
Presiding Coroner,
Deputy Chief Coroner of Inquests
26 Grenville Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2G9