He thought his wife, Belleville’s police chief, was having an affair with the city’s mayor.
Fuelled by a jealous rage, a screaming David McMullan threw Cory McMullan to the ground, dragged her by the hair and struck her repeatedly, leaving her with a broken arm and multiple bruises.
Then he summoned their teenaged daughter to the family garage, saying, “Look what I caught,” and struck his wife again with an object as she lay on the concrete floor.
“Guilty, your honour,” came the quiet admission Monday as the 53-year-old retired police officer answered to a charge of assault causing bodily harm in the Aug. 6 attack.
His suspicions about a romantic involvement between his wife and Mayor Neil Ellis were “irrational and unfounded,” he has admitted.
The assault left the town buzzing as locals traded tales about a suspected affair after Cory McMullan, with her left arm in a cast, identified herself publicly as the victim of domestic violence. Ellis, a married father of three, denied there was a romance between them.
Head bowed, McMullan wiped his eyes as Crown attorney Robin Flumerfelt read aloud an agreed statement of facts.
Married to Cory McMullan for 20 years, he became verbally abusive when he felt their home life was suffering because of the demands of her job. The couple and their two children moved from Peterborough after she was made Belleville’s police chief 18 months ago.
The assault happened on the evening of Aug. 6, after Cory McMullan, who had offered Ellis a ride as he walked to a friend’s house, spotted her husband’s car tailing them. When she pulled over, David McMullan grabbed Ellis and “accused him of being involved with his wife,” Flumerfelt said.
She told Ellis to go home, and then McMullan grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the ground at least three times. He hit her with his fist or foot as she lay there, Flumerfelt said.
The beating stopped when an off-duty RCMP officer who witnessed it called 911. Cory McMullan told the officer everything was okay and the couple drove home in separate vehicles.
But the assault continued in their garage, where David McMullan dragged her around and threw her onto the concrete floor, breaking her arm, Flumerfelt told Judge Peter Coulson.
The RCMP officer, who had followed them home, called 911 again. Screaming from the garage could be heard during the call, according to Flumerfelt.
When the couple’s daughter, who had been in the house with friends, witnessed the violence, she pleaded with her father to leave and threatened to call police. Cory McMullan was taken to hospital with a broken arm and bruises all over her body.
She was not in court Monday as her husband, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and grey tie, made his appearance flanked by a handful of friends and family members.
Outside the courthouse, with eyes watering, McMullan made a brief comment to reporters.
“I’m ashamed for my actions and I’m sorry for what I’ve done.”
His lawyer Dick Boriss said his client hopes to reconcile with his family, “and indications are (his wife) feels the same way.”
The unemployed father, who left his job as a police officer in Peterborough when his wife was made Belleville’s police chief, had been under a lot of stress, Boriss said. He was struggling with retirement, the move to a new community and the sudden death of his best friend a few months earlier.
“He feels terrible about it, no question,” Boriss said of the assault, adding McMullan is receiving counselling.
The gossip in the town of 50,000, two hours east of Toronto, became so vicious that Neil Ellis made a public explanation of his involvement that night.
Flatly denying a romantic link, he said he was in Cory McMullan’s car because of a chance encounter. David McMullan “started screaming” and the two men grabbed each other but didn’t exchange blows, he said.
The rumours, which “just won’t stop” and included details about the mayor being punched out by David McMullan, affected his entire family, Ellis complained at the time.
McMullan, who will be sentenced Nov. 26, has been ordered not to contact his wife unless she gives written consent.
Neil Ellis, mayor of Belleville, said he doesn’t know McMullan well and only “as the chief of police.” The 24-year policing veteran from Peterborough has held the Belleville position for about 16 months.
Ellis acknowledged to the local paper that he was in the chief’s vehicle for a few minutes the night of Aug. 6 when an altercation occurred with her husband. But he said she just happened by to offer him a lift after he dropped off his car at the mall for his son. Her husband showed up and “started screaming,” Ellis said.
Neither man hit the other, he said. The chief told him she would handle things, they all left and about an hour later she called to tell him about the assault charge, according to Ellis.