Cathy Clayson alleges her husband slashed her throat and left her by the side of a road in Jamaica while the couple was on vacation four years ago. She has told court she is "petrified" of her husband, haunted by nightmares about him, wears a "personal security device" that allows her to summon police instantly, and fears he might kill her or kill or kidnap their two young children.
But on Tuesday, Ms. Clayson, 38, sat in the witness box just a few feet from Paul Martin, 46, as he stood and questioned her himself because he has no lawyer acting for him.
It was a tense moment in an already emotional trial. A Jamaican jury found Mr. Martin, a schoolteacher, not guilty in 2011. He returned to Canada after almost a year in an island jail to resume teaching with the Durham Catholic District School Board.
In an Oshawa courtroom, his wife is seeking a divorce, an order ending his supervised access to their children, and a finding in civil court that he sliced a 10-centimetre gash in her throat with a hooked "gutting knife" during a vacation in Montego Bay on Dec. 23, 2010. With his wife at first not looking at him across the courtroom, Mr. Martin, dressed in a dark fitted suit, stood at the lectern and asked her in a soft voice if this was the first time they had spoken to each other since December, 2010.
Addressing her as "Ms. Clayson," he began asking her about the terms of his supervised access to their children. Then, he asked her why, if their marriage had fallen apart before the Jamaica trip, did she agree to go.
"You described me at 'obsessive, controlling … at times violent,'" he asked her. "Is this true?"
"Yes," she said.
He went on asking why she would plan a trip, and make other plans, if this was how she felt: "You would make life plans with this person? This monster that you've told everybody about?"
She replied that she was trying to hold onto the marriage for their children: "It was a very emotional time. [I had] mixed feelings."
But in his hour or so of questioning before court adjourned for the day, Mr. Martin did not address his wife's central allegation: that he attacked her, slit her throat, attempted to strangle her, and left her by the side of the road.
Instead, he went line by line through the couple's joint Visa bill, asking his wife why she spent a few hundred dollars at women's wear stores such as Nine West and Ann Taylor, when, he asserted, their joint account and credit card were meant for purchases for the children.
"This might have been one of your rules that I broke," she said, adding that she did not see anything wrong with spending money from their joint account. "I'm not too sure, Paul."
Earlier, Ms. Clayson told court her husband has sharing a place with a Toronto police officer with two children, in Whitby, Ont., not far from her. She said this has intensified her fears of him, as he now has "access to a gun."
"One of my biggest fears is that Paul … may do something drastic," she said, "… that he is going to kill my children."
She also said she feared Mr. Martin would leave the country or go into hiding with the children.
Earlier, Ms. Clayson, who works for a bank, testified that before the trial began, she would have been willing to go along with the recommendation of a court-appointed psychologist and domestic violence expert that she drop her legal claims against Mr. Martin, in a kind of "amnesty," if he agreed to admit what he had done. The expert's report also recommends permanent supervised access for Mr. Martin to his two children, and calls the alleged attack in Jamaica "an isolated incident," court heard.
Ms. Clayson told court that allowing her children supervised visits and phone calls made her feel vulnerable and fearful about her safety, because that lets Mr. Martin find out where she lives, what her plans are and where she and the children are going to be.
She told court her husband recently told her daughter to Google him, ostensibly to find a record of his time as a high-school track athlete. Ms. Clayson said her nine-year-old daughter is not allowed to search the Internet as she would likely find articles containing the allegations about what happened in Jamaica, which Ms. Clayson has so far kept from her children.
Court adjourned in the late morning, before Mr. Martin's cross-examination of his wife was to begin, as the two sides entered into talks on a settlement mediated by a judge, but resumed after three-and-half hours.
Mr. Martin is to continue the cross examination on Wednesday.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Paul Martin is living with a new girlfriend who is a Toronto police officer. In fact, Mr. Martin is living with a male housemate who is a Toronto police officer.