Boyle’s violence got worse as captivity wore on, Coleman tells court

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OTTAWA — Joshua Boyle’s criminal trial heard allegations Tuesday from his estranged wife about his violent tendencies towards her before, during and after their captivity in Afghanistan, and the sordid details of their sexual lives that are now subject to charges he faces.

On the second day of her cross-examination, Caitlan Coleman talked about Boyle’s increasingly unsettled state as their time as hostages wore on, and her hope the beatings she suffered in captivity would end with their release.

The couple were kidnapped in October 2012 by a Taliban-linked group during a backpacking trip while Coleman was pregnant with the first of the couple’s three children — all of whom were born before the family’s high-profile rescue by Pakistani forces in 2017.

Boyle had violent tendencies before their kidnapping, but he became increasingly abusive towards her, Coleman testified. There was a reprieve of about two weeks after the couple returned to Canada in October 2017, raising her hopes that his behaviour had changed for good.

Instead, she said, trouble started anew and Boyle was arrested on Dec. 31, 2017.

In February, Coleman wrote an email to Boyle’s sister, Heather, saying she was “sorry that your brother has deteriorated like this,” that he “always had mental health problems, but he was not a violent person before captivity.”

That email wasn’t entirely true, she said.

“I was trying to outline some of the abuses, but at the same time be compassionate to her. My wording was not necessarily always 100 per cent correct, especially as far as adjectives,” she said.

“I exaggerated how good Josh was before captivity and I think I wanted to — yes, I exaggerated it out of compassion to make him sound a bit more sympathetic to his sister.”

Boyle, 35, has pleaded not guilty to several offences against Coleman, including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement that allegedly took place after the couple returned to Canada.

He was arrested in the early hours of Dec. 31, 2017 after Coleman ran shoeless into the frigid Ottawa cold, wearing mutiple layers of socks to protect her feet, as she frantically knocked on doors for help.

Police arrested Boyle that night after hearing Coleman’s description of what she went through.

The focus of questioning Tuesday turned to the couple’s sexual lives, including bondage and sado-masochism activities, which Coleman says she agreed to only because Boyle didn’t want to hear no for an answer.

She reviewed an inventory of items from Boyle’s so-called “BDSM” bag — mouse traps, ropes, clamps, blindfolds taken from Air Canada flights, dog toys used as gags, and a prescription for erectile dysfunction — which was organized in a photo taken by police investigators.

Defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon went through each item with her, then reviewed details of Coleman’s earlier testimony, asking her about her memory of an incident on Nov. 27, 2017.

Coleman had previously told court about how on that night she refused Boyle’s request to try anal sex. An argument ensued. Coleman said she threatened to take their three children, Boyle hit her and ordered her to the bedroom where she described being tied up naked on the couple’s bed.

Coleman testified on Tuesday that she couldn’t recall exactly how she got on the bed.

Greenspon pored over details of her earlier testimony about her rocky relationship with Boyle, the allegations of domestic violence and forced sex, repeatedly asking Coleman if what she said was an accurate recollection of events.

The back-and-forth was punctuated near the end of the day when Greenspon and Coleman sparred over the details of her statement to police, and parts of the transcription Coleman disputed.

“Sorry, I’m a little uncomfortable with how this is a little bit intimidating sometimes,” Coleman told Greenspon, sitting at the opposite corner of a table in an adjacent room, her testimony being fed into the main courtroom via video feed.

“I know you don’t mean to be, but it’s kind of triggering to how Josh treated me at times.”

“Oh, I see,” Greenspon said.

“I’m sorry,” she continued. “You’ve never done anything to me, but it’s a little reflective of some times in my past.”

Greenspon is expected to finish his cross-examination Wednesday, with one of Coleman’s sisters scheduled to take the stand in the afternoon.


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