Psychiatric assessment for ex-hostage Joshua Boyle extended by 2 weeks

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 being held in custody at the Brockville Mental Health Centre on 19 criminal charges

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, will continue his psychiatric assessment for an additional two weeks, the court ordered Monday.

Boyle, 34, spoke in an Ottawa courtroom by phone from the Brockville Mental Health Centre, where the assessment is taking place.

Lawrence Greenspon and Eric Granger are representing Boyle.

During Boyle's previous appearance Jan. 26​, Greenspon told court Boyle had been seen by a doctor, who found him fit to stand trial but thought Boyle would benefit from a "comprehensive" 60-day in-patient psychiatric assessment.

The assessment was due to end Monday, but the doctor performing the assessment requested a two-week extension. The Crown did not object and the extension until April 9 was ordered by the court Monday.

Next appearance scheduled

The Crown and defence earlier agreed that the original 60 days 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 essentially extends that deadline to 20 months in Boyle's case. Court heard Monday that the two-week extension will also not count toward Boyle's right to a trial in a reasonable timeframe.

At the end of his brief appearance in court Monday, Boyle said by phone that he doesn'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's next Ottawa court appearance is scheduled for April 9 via video link. A bail hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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)