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Nightmares about husband, throat-slashing victim testifies

Cathy Lee Clayson is photographed at her Ajax, Ontario home on Dec. 21, 2011. Her throat was slashed in an attack a year ago at Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Cathy Clayson says she still has nightmares about her husband, Ajax, Ont., school teacher Paul Martin, and has feared for her safety ever since he was acquitted in 2011 by a Jamaican jury of slashing her throat while the couple was vacationing at a Montego Bay resort.

"The one recurring one that I have is of him chasing me around our old house with a knife," she told court on Monday, adding that she last had the dream the previous night.

Ms. Clayson, 38, is testifying at a trial in Oshawa in which she is seeking to end Mr. Martin's supervised access to their two young children and persuade an Ontario Superior Court judge to make a civil finding that Mr. Martin, 46, slashed her throat and left her by the side of a road on Dec. 23, 2010.

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Mr. Martin was found not guilty in Jamaica. Ms. Clayson's lawyers are now trying to prove her husband attacked her, not to the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, but to the lower civil court standard of a balance of probabilities.

Mr. Martin has no lawyer. And on Tuesday, when it comes time for his wife to be cross-examined about the harrowing account of the attack she gave in court, Mr. Martin himself will question her.

"In the circumstances of this case, that is going to be particularly awkward for everyone," Justice Roger Timms said in court. "... But we will do our best to get through it."

In a second day of emotional testimony on Monday, Ms. Clayson told court she has lived in fear since the 2011 acquittal and Mr. Martin's return to Canada. She alerted police, consulted a private detective and warned her children's schools and daycares about the restraining order she had against her husband, which was still in effect.

After Ms. Clayson returned from Jamaica just days after the attack, she had to confront television trucks in front of her house and the heart-wrenching question of what to tell her children. Her older child, a teenager from a previous relationship, already knew, but the couple's children, then 5 and two-and-a-half, did not, she told court.

After her 5-year-old noticed a cut on her thumb from the attack, Ms. Clayson said she told her she "slipped on a banana." She also said she told the children their father stayed in Jamaica to teach children there, when in fact he was in jail. But then her child pulled down the scarf she was wearing to hide the bandaged and stitched 10-centimetre gash in her neck.

"When I slipped on the banana, I also cut my neck," Ms. Clayson said she told her child. "She laughed."

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She told court that after returning from Jamaica, she found Mr. Martin's closet in their house locked. Her brother broke it open, she said, and inside she found his briefcases stuffed with documents, including one that changed the beneficiaries of his pension from her to the couple's two children, dated just 10 days before the couple left for Jamaica.

She also told court she found new clothes and a receipt that showed her husband bought them just before the trip: five ties, some dark dress pants and a black dress shirt.

Ms. Clayson testified that her marriage to Mr. Martin had deteriorated long before the trip, which came after she told him she wanted to separate.

She told court her husband had become increasingly "controlling," trying to keep her from going out with friends and accusing her of having an affair. She said he "nit-picked" and "belittled" her.

When she planned to take a trip to Miami with a girlfriend, Ms. Clayson testified, Mr. Martin agreed to let her go only if her sister went too. She said he called and texted her constantly, including at midnight and 6 a.m., to ensure she was not "sleeping around."

On Friday, she told court Mr. Martin once punched a hole in his daughter's closet in a rage over her behaviour when she was just a toddler. Court also heard that he made disparaging remarks about the Filipino origins of her son from a previous relationship.

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‎Ms. Clayson has told court that her husband repeatedly accused her of having an affair – including in the minutes after he allegedly slashed her throat.

On Monday, she testified that a female friend told her Mr. Martin had told her Ms. Clayson was having an affair with the friend's husband. Ms. Clayson denies any affair, and told court that when she confronted Mr. Martin, he denied he making any accusation.

"I was extrem‎ely upset and appalled," she said. "...To me this was pretty much the last straw at our marriage."

The trial also involves financial disputes between the pair over child support, childcare expenses, the family cottage and even Mr. Martin's orthotics. Mr. Martin claims he is owed $25,000 for property not returned to him, court heard.

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About the Author
Toronto City Hall Reporter

Jeff Gray is The Globe and Mail’s Toronto City Hall reporter. He has worked at The Globe since 1998. From 2010 to 2016, he was the law reporter in Report on Business, covering Bay Street law firms and white-collar crime. He won an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards for investigative journalism in 2010. More

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