Joshua Boyle made frantic 911 call about his wife being suicidal, court hears

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OTTAWA — Former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle made a frantic, late-night 911 call in December 2017 to say his wife Caitlan Coleman had run screaming from their Ottawa apartment, threatening to kill herself.

An audio recording of the call, which resulted in a prompt visit from police, was played Tuesday at Boyle’s assault trial in Ontario court.

The call triggered an investigation that led to Boyle’s arrest hours later for allegedly assaulting Coleman.

READ MORE: Former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle in court for assault charges

Boyle, 35, is charged with offences including assault, sexual assault, unlawful confinement and causing someone to take a noxious substance. A majority of the charges relate to Coleman, though a second alleged victim cannot be identified due to a publication ban.

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Boyle has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

At the time of his arrest, the couple had lived in Ottawa for just over two months after five years in captivity overseas.

READ MORE: Custody fight underway between former hostages Joshua Boyle, Caitlan Coleman

Boyle and Coleman were seized in 2012 by a Taliban-linked group while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan. Pakistani forces freed them in October 2017 along with their three children, who were born during the lengthy hostage ordeal.

Boyle told the 911 operator he and Coleman were arguing when she became very agitated. He asked her to stay in her room because she was upsetting the children. She then ran outside, “screaming at the top of her lungs that she’s going to kill herself,” he said.

Ottawa police Sgt. Shane Henderson told the court he and another officer arrived at the apartment shortly after midnight and tried to find Coleman. Henderson said Boyle told him his wife was upset because her mother, Lynn, was in town from Pennsylvania, and Coleman was unhappy the apartment needed cleaning.

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

According to Henderson, Boyle said he let Coleman leave, even though he was unsure she had a jacket or shoes, because he didn’t want to hit her or drag her back into the apartment.

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Henderson soon set off for Lynn Coleman’s downtown hotel. As he arrived, Boyle called to say he believed his wife had taken her passport and those of the children, leading him to fear she might abduct them.

At the hotel, Henderson found Coleman in her mother’s room. Henderson expressed concern for Coleman, but she told the officer she was not suicidal.

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,” Henderson said. She said Boyle had broken one of her bones in Afghanistan, the officer added.

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As a result, Henderson said, the focus of the investigation shifted from a missing-person case to a criminal probe.

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Henderson and fellow officers returned to the apartment in the early hours of Dec. 31 to take Boyle into custody.

As Henderson described the arrest, Boyle became visibly upset and tried to leave the courtroom, prompting a short break.

During cross-examination, Boyle’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, pressed Henderson on exactly when and why he began to see the investigation as a probe of Boyle’s purported actions.

Greenspon suggested Henderson had come to view the case differently in as little as 15 minutes after arriving at the hotel room, given that he had stopped responding to calls from Boyle.

Henderson said he indeed began to refuse to answer Boyle’s calls, but said he might have simply missed some.

Coleman is expected to testify in the trial Wednesday.

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