Former hostage Joshua Boyle makes brief in-person court appearance

Former hostage Joshua Boyle, who faces a set of 19 charges related to alleged incidents after he returned to Canada, will continue his psychiatric assessment for an additional two weeks, the court ordered Monday.

Boyle's psychiatric assessment at Brockville Mental Health Centre recently ended

Joshua Boyle, who faces 19 criminal charges, is attending a bail hearing Monday. He is seen in this court sketch from a previous court appearance by video. (Lauren Foster-MacLeod)

Former hostage Joshua Boyle, who faces a set of 19 charges related to alleged incidents after he returned to Canada, made a brief appearance in court Monday morning in person.

Boyle, 34, had originally been scheduled to appear via video.

He wore black rectangular glasses, black pants, a long-sleeved dark blue button-up shirt and a red embroidered vest.

He spoke briefly with defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon from the glass-walled prisoner's box before the justice of the peace entered the room.

Boyle was recently transferred back to the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre after his in-patient psychiatric assessment at the Brockville Mental Health Centre.

The assessment was originally scheduled to last 60 days, but during Boyle's last appearance in court on March 26, the defence team requested an additional two weeks on behalf of the physician conducting the assessment.

A report has been drafted and sent to the judge. Greenspon asked Monday that it be sealed by the court and the justice of the peace granted the request.

Next appearance scheduled

Boyle's next public court appearance is scheduled for April 27 via video link. A closed-door judicial pre-trial will take place April 17.

A bail hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The Crown and defence earlier agreed that the time set aside for the assessment will not count toward Boyle's right to a trial in a reasonable timeframe. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that provincial court trials must be completed within 18 months of charges being laid.

The agreement reached by the Crown and defence extends that deadline to nearly 21 months in Boyle's case. 

At the end of his brief appearance in court March 26, Boyle said by phone that he didn't know the charges against him. "With all respect, sir, I have no idea what's going on," he told the justice of the peace.

Boyle and his family met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Dec. 19. Boyle was arrested by Ottawa police on New Year's Day. (@boylesvsworld/Twitter)

2 alleged victims

After his arrest on New Year's Day in Ottawa, Boyle faced 15 charges relating to two alleged victims, including eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of unlawful confinement, uttering a threat to cause death, public mischief, and administering a noxious substance.

Those original 15 charges were withdrawn by the Crown in January, and a new set of 19 charges were entered into the record. The practice is not uncommon, and is known as a relay of charges.

The 19 charges, which related to one alleged victim instead of two, 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.

On Monday, the Crown told court it's changing the name of the victim for one of the 19 charges, and that there are two alleged victims. The identities of both alleged victims are protected by publication bans.

Police allege the offences happened in Ottawa between Oct. 14 and Dec. 30. None of the charges has been proven in court.

'The kids and I are doing OK'

Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were freed in October, five years after the couple was abducted while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan. The children were born in captivity.

In an interview with The Fifth Estate's Habiba Nosheen after Boyle's arrest, Coleman said she hopes Boyle gets the help he needs.

"The kids and I are doing OK given the circumstances," said Coleman.

Upon Boyle's return to Canada, he told CBC News that members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network killed their infant daughter and raped his wife during their five years in captivity. The family was moved between 23 different locations within 50 kilometres of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and spent time in both countries.

Boyle said his family was shuffled among at least three prisons. One was remarkably barbaric, he said, while another one was particularly violent. He and his wife were frequently separated and beaten.

Boyle settled into his parents' home in Smiths Falls, Ont., when he returned to Canada in October, but court records show his most recent address was in Ottawa.

A handwritten note posted outside Boyle's Ottawa home shortly after his arrest asked for privacy. (CBC News)