Joshua Boyle speaks to the media after arriving at the airport in Toronto on Friday, October 13, 2017. Boyle was arrested by Ottawa police late last month and made his first court appearance on New Year’s Day facing 15 charges, including eight counts of assault, two of sexual assault, two of unlawful confinement and one count of causing someone to take a noxious thing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Wife of former hostage Joshua Boyle testifies to abuse

Caitlan Coleman says she was often spanked three times a week by Boyle

Caitlan Coleman, who was backpacking in Afghanistan with husband Joshua Boyle when the pair were seized by extremists in 2012, told a judge Wednesday her spouse regularly punished her with spankings for arguing with him or disobeying his wishes.

Coleman, 33, recounted in court how the two met online when she was 16 and began a complicated on-and-off relationship before marrying in 2011 in Costa Rica and travelling the following year to central Asia.

She said that in the early days of their rollercoaster courtship, her future spouse would often belittle and demean her. Over time, he became controlling, telling her how to behave and what to wear. Emotional and verbal abuse later became punches and slaps to the face, Coleman said.

In Ontario court, 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 were freed by Pakistani forces and had returned to Canada in late 2017.

READ MORE: Wife of former hostage Joshua Boyle returns to U.S. with children: report

Coleman testified via closed-circuit television from a separate room Wednesday to avoid being in the main courtroom with her estranged husband. She spoke in a matter-of-fact manner, breaking down in tears only once near the end of a long day of telling her story.

Boyle, joined by his parents in the courtroom’s public gallery, sat impassively throughout her testimony.

The Pennsylvania-raised Coleman said that early on in the relationship, Boyle insulted her, told her she wasn’t good enough and made her question her self-worth.

She said he became agitated when she suggested in 2008 they go their separate ways, calling her repeatedly and even threatening to kill himself.

“I did still love him, so I felt very sad,” Coleman told the court.

In 2009, Boyle married Zaynab Khadr, sister of Toronto-born Omar Khadr, who spent years in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after he was captured in Afghanistan.

Coleman resumed contact with Boyle and met the newlywed couple for lunch during a visit to Toronto that summer. While walking Coleman to her hotel, Boyle told her she was the love of his life and that they would be together, she testified.

“It made me feel really happy,” she said. “I wanted to go through that door.”

Coleman said Boyle insisted, since she would be his wife, that she must dress conservatively, shun alcohol and not associate with other men.

Boyle moved to New Brunswick and Coleman joined him, though she was not keen on the move. She said Boyle shocked her by saying Khadr, to whom he was still married, would come live with them.

However, Boyle did divorce his wife and he and Coleman wed during a lengthy trip to Central America in July 2011.

Boyle loathed North America and pressed Coleman to go to central Asia, she said. She learned she was pregnant in June 2012, and the couple headed to Asia soon after. After a few months, Boyle insisted they visit Afghanistan despite Coleman’s vehement objections. They were there just a week when they were captured by a Taliban-linked group.

Coleman gave birth to three children while in captivity.

The couple were physically abused by their captors, Coleman told the court. But she said she also suffered violence at the hands of her husband, including spankings on her buttocks as often as three times a week, punches and slaps to the face, choking and biting.

In spring 2017, Boyle told her she was a bad person and must stay in the shower area of the room in which the family was being held, she said.

“I was not in love with him anymore, I was afraid of him,” she told the court. “This was probably the darkest period of my whole life.”

Following their October 2017 release, the couple flew back to Canada and lived with Boyle’s parents in Smiths Falls, Ont., before moving to Ottawa.

Initially, they spent time in a hotel. Coleman said following one argument, Boyle ordered her to sit in the shower, then forced her to take three tablets of Trazodone, an anti-depressant.

READ MORE: Former hostage Joshua Boyle granted bail with conditions

Boyle made a late-night 911 call on Dec. 30, 2017, to say Coleman had run screaming from their Ottawa apartment, threatening to kill herself.

Police responded and found Coleman just over an hour later at a downtown hotel with her mother Lyn, who was visiting from the U.S.

Ottawa police Sgt. Shane Henderson has told the court that Coleman provided a detailed statement saying she was trying to get away from her husband because he had threatened to kill her and had assaulted her “numerous times,” including just hours earlier.

Boyle was arrested in the early hours of Dec. 31, 2017.

— Follow ↕JimBronskill on Twitter

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Lacombe partners with Vesta to support community initiatives

Mayor Creasey yesterday a $20,000 contribution from Vern Crone, production manager for Vesta Energy

Cody Dennis Memorial Game returns to Blackfalds for 16th year

Memorial game raises funds for Blackfalds Minor Hockey

Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre, LPAC team up for youth production of ‘Much More Munsch’

Youth ages 8-17 have been rehearsing original play since November

PHOTOS: Lacombe’s Nowco Home Hardware donates to Safe Harbour Society

Two large loads of warm clothing, mitts and McDonald’s gift cards donated

Lacombe County, Summer Village of Gull Lake sign Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Agreement specifies what and how services are funded and delivered

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Canada prepares as WHO decides whether to declare global coronavirus emergency

The city of Wuhan, China, has shut down outbound flights and trains

Survey finds support among Canadians for broader assisted-dying law

The survey was conducted Jan. 17 to 21 among 1,552 Canadians eligible to vote

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Alberta premier wants federal government to do more about opioid imports

Jason Kenney says Canada should find ways to cut down on drugs being smuggled into the country

Alberta Energy Regulator laying off staff, restructures, deals with budget cuts

Gordon Lambert, interim CEO, says the changes are part of a restructuring

Most Read