OTTAWA — Lynda Coleman says her daughter, Caitlan, was an unemotional automaton who was afraid of her husband in the weeks after she and Joshua Boyle were released from captivity.
Coleman says she visited her daughter, who she calls Caty, twice in Ottawa in October and December 2017 and on both visits she found Caitlan to be frightened of her husband and always heavily controlling her emotions.
“I never saw anything but this new robot automaton,” said Coleman, 70, who testified Friday at Boyle’s criminal trial.
Boyle, 35, faces 19 charges, including sexual assault, assault and unlawful confinement for offences allegedly committed after he and Caitlan Coleman were released following five years as hostages of a Taliban-linked extremist group in Afghanistan.
Coleman alleges Boyle repeatedly hit her, spanked her, choked her and bit her both in captivity and after moving to Ottawa following their release in October 2017. The pair were abducted in October 2012 during a backpacking trip to Afghanistan, and freed five years later by Pakistani forces. They had three children while in captivity.
The couple moved to Ottawa after being freed.
Lynda Coleman became teary as she described seeing her daughter for the first time. Caitlan Coleman was in the hospital then.
“I held her hand and that was about all I could do at that point,” she said. “It was wonderful.”
During hospital visits in the days that followed as Caitlan’s heath improved, she said the three young children were often there and Boyle did nothing to help care for them. Boyle would sit by the window, mostly on his phone while Caitlan fed the kids, changed them and shared her hospital food with them.
Lynda Coleman said she ordered in pizza and when Boyle returned to the room “he plopped down on the floor and Caty served him pizza.”
“He never showed any affection, he never showed any respect,” Coleman said.
On a second visit in December 2017, Lynda Coleman said she still felt her daughter was extremely controlled, afraid of upsetting Boyle and catering to him and the children while he did nothing to help.
On one of those visits she said Boyle told Caitlan she had “four minutes” to get the three children into their coats and boots so they could leave their apartment. Lynda Coleman told him that was not possible.
“I think it was at that time that he said, ‘oh right, I have to be nice because my mother-in-law is here’.”
She said the look on her daughter’s face was tense and frightened during the exchange.
Another day, Boyle took Caitlan, her mother and the kids to Wal-Mart and when Caitlan realized she had forgotten to buy rice that Boyle wanted, her face was stricken and afraid.
Coleman said before meeting Boyle, her daughter was outgoing and imaginative with many friends. Caitlan Coleman was 14 or 15 years old when she met Boyle online in an Internet forum for Star Wars fans.
Lynda Coleman said Caitlan was very different when she was around Boyle.
“He would drive her to anger on the phone, she would scream, throw things, throw her phone,” she said. “She didn’t do that with her other friends.”
Caitlan Coleman fled the couple’s apartment on the evening of Dec. 30, and phoned her mother, who was staying at a hotel, and said she needed help. She arrived at the hotel without a coat and wearing only socks, no shoes, on a frigid Ottawa winter night, shivering and upset. Lynda Coleman said her daughter did not want to call the police.
“She said Josh can convince anyone of anything,” Coleman said.
But shortly after, three Ottawa police officers arrived at the hotel, called by Boyle who had told them Caitlan was suicidal. After interviewing Caitlan, the police returned to the family’s apartment and arrested Boyle.
One of Boyle’s defence lawyers, Eric Granger, asked Lynda Coleman how often she saw or communicated with her daughter in recent months and if they ever spoke about Boyle.