Former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle has woven a fictional, self-serving narrative to disguise the fact he demeaned, subjugated and assaulted his wife Caitlan Coleman, a Crown attorney charged Tuesday at Boyle’s criminal trial.
“He effectively coercively controlled her, and this developed over a number of years,” prosecutor Jason Neubauer said as he began the Crown’s concluding arguments.
Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty to several offences against Coleman including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement in the period of October to December 2017.
The incidents are alleged to have taken place after he and Coleman returned to Canada following five years as hostages in the hands of Taliban-linked extremists. The couple settled into an Ottawa apartment in late 2017 with the three children Coleman had in captivity.
Boyle has disputed allegations he mistreated Coleman verbally or physically, portraying her as unstable and prone to fits that made family life extremely difficult.
During the trial, Boyle has described himself as a masochist who sleeps on the floor, partakes in bondage-style sex and has little regard for his personal safety.
Boyle’s lawyers have acknowledged he is unorthodox, unconventional and even unlikable, but stress that he scrupulously adheres to the truth.
Neubauer assailed the reasoning as “a straw man,” saying the Crown is not arguing that someone who deviates from social norms is less credible than the next person.
Rather, Boyle’s testimony is generally unbelievable and incapable of raising reasonable doubt about the criminal charges he faces, Neubauer said. “Aspects of it are incompatible with common sense.”
The prosecutor variously described Boyle’s statements in the witness box as illogical, evasive, fabricated, argumentative and “outright lies.”
Neubauer cited a complimentary, loving text message Boyle apparently sent Coleman, one quickly followed by a second message saying: Oops, wrong address — April Fool’s, expect painful biting tonight.
He accused Boyle of contradicting himself by first acknowledging he sent the text, then saying he didn’t know if it was his message.
“It matters because it affects Mr. Boyle’s overall credibility,” Neubauer said. “And that of course reflects poorly on his honesty as a witness.”
Boyle’s lawyers have urged Judge Peter Doody to reject Coleman’s claims of abuse, characterizing her testimony as the fuzzy recollections of an unreliable woman with serious anger-management issues.
Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon asserted Tuesday that Coleman fled the apartment she shared with Boyle and accused him of assault as part of a long-desired plan to win sole custody of their children and make a new life in the United States.
Greenspon said Coleman saw the night of Dec. 30, 2017, as her best chance to put the plan into effect.
Coleman grabbed money and family passports before heading to a downtown hotel to see her visiting mother, who was about to head back to the U.S.
Boyle, meanwhile, called police to say his wife was missing and expressed concern for her safety.
An officer turned up at the hotel and listened to Coleman’s claims her husband had assaulted her several times, leading to Boyle’s arrest a short time later.
Neubauer is slated to continue with the Crown’s closing submissions Wednesday.
Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press