At 11:47 p.m. ET on Dec. 30, 2017, Joshua Boyle picked up the phone and dialled 911, prompting Ottawa police to show up at the apartment he shared with his then spouse and their children.
It was the day Caitlan Coleman was “finally able to walk away from Mr. Boyle” after months of alleged domestic abuse, Crown attorney Meaghan Cunningham told court as Boyle’s trial began Monday.
On Tuesday, Boyle’s 911 call was played in court.
“My wife is threatening to kill herself,” he’s heard telling the dispatcher in five minutes of the 911 audio. He says she has an “extreme mental instability” called borderline personality disorder, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) “and a few other things.”
But the call was a ruse, the Crown intends to prove — an attempt by Boyle to divert suspicion away from himself and onto someone else.
Two days later, Boyle was arrested and charged with a raft of offences, including public mischief (misleading police with the 911 call and ensuing investigation), assault with a weapon, sexual assault and forcible confinement.
Boyle has pleaded not guilty to all 19 charges, laid after the couple returned to Canada in October 2017 with the three children they had while in captivity for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
‘Did not want to hit her’
Sgt. Shane Henderson was one of the two police officers who responded to Boyle’s 911 call.
Boyle greeted Henderson at the door of the unit holding an infant, told Henderson he and Coleman had been in an argument, and that he “didn’t want to drag Caitlan back into the apartment” and “did not want to hit her,” Henderson recalled jotting down in his notes.
After Henderson looked for Coleman elsewhere inside and outside the apartment building, he came back to the couple’s unit to get more details.
Boyle told Henderson that Coleman suffered from a personality disorder, anxiety and PTSD, that she was stressed after an argument about the kids drawing on the wall, “and about Caitlan as a wife not performing her duties and her roles and responsibilities as a mother,” Henderson testified.
Boyle worried about what Coleman would tell police
Boyle said “he offered to have sex with Caitlan if she wanted to,” Henderson went on, and that Boyle told him he asked Coleman to stay in a bedroom to calm down, but he kept the door open and never prevented her from leaving.
Henderson asked if Coleman had a cellphone, to see if they could trace it to find her, and made a note of Boyle grabbing a chair to reach the top of the fridge, where he kept Coleman’s flip phone.
“He said he took Caitlan’s phone away to make sure she didn’t break it, as she had broken phones in the past,” Henderson testified.
The officer then got ready to leave and continue searching for Coleman.
“As I left, Boyle told me that he was concerned, as any husband would be, what Caitlan would say to us when we found her,” Henderson told court.
The trial before Ontario Court Justice Peter Doody resumes Tuesday after the lunch break.
The 19 charges Boyle faces are:
- One count of sexual assault while threatening to use a weapon (ropes).
- One count of sexual assault with a weapon (ropes).
- One count of uttering a threat to cause death.
- Nine counts of assault.
- One count of assault with a weapon (a broomstick).
- Three counts of unlawful confinement.
- One count of administering a noxious substance (the antidepressant Trazodone).
- One count of public mischief (misleading a police officer into believing that someone was suicidal and missing, causing the officer to start an investigation, and thereby diverting suspicion away from Boyle).
- One count of criminal harassment.
Police allege the offences happened in Ottawa between Oct. 14, 2017, and Dec. 30, 2017.