Prosecutor asks judge to find ‘cruel’ Joshua Boyle guilty of assaulting wife

OTTAWA — Former hostage Joshua Boyle used a calculated mixture of kindness and cruelty to ensnare his wife Caitlan Coleman in an emotional web, a Crown attorney said Thursday in urging a judge to find him guilty of assault.

Prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham told Ontario Court Judge Peter Doody that Coleman’s credible evidence against Boyle is bolstered by other testimony and documentation that paints him as a controlling, dominant husband who instilled fear.

Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty to 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 in Ottawa after he and Coleman returned to Canada following five years as overseas captives of Taliban-linked extremists. The couple were seized in 2012 in Afghanistan during a backpacking trip through Asia.

Boyle’s trial concluded Thursday, though written submissions from each side on certain legal points will be made later this month. Doody said he will deliver a verdict in the case Dec. 19.

Much of the closing submissions in the trial dealt with the respective credibility of Boyle and Coleman, each of whom spent days testifying about their fraught relationship, their harrowing time as hostages and events that led up to Boyle’s arrest in late 2017.

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who is representing Boyle, says reasonable doubt about his client’s guilt amounts to a defence against all of the criminal charges.

He argues Doody should dismiss Coleman’s allegations, characterizing her testimony as the uncertain recollections of an unstable woman with serious emotional issues.

“Ms. Coleman’s evidence is neither credible nor reliable,” Greenspon told the court this week.

Cunningham firmly disagreed Thursday, calling Coleman’s testimony “coherent and compelling.”

Coleman has told the court her husband spanked, punched and slapped her while they were imprisoned abroad, and that his violent ways resumed shortly following their arrival in Canada.

Boyle firmly held the balance of power in the relationship, holding Coleman in his emotional grip, Cunningham said. “Mr. Boyle alternated sweetness with verbal abuse and demeaning comments.”

Boyle made it clear to his wife that she was to obey him, make him happy, always speak politely and never argue, Cunningham said.

“By the time they were released from captivity, Caitlan Coleman was terrified of her husband.”

Coleman has testified Boyle created a list of demands that included an edict she make him ejaculate twice a day, seven days a week, or face “chastising,” his word for spanking.

Cunningham underscored the importance of the list as evidence of Boyle’s controlling nature. “It is akin to a smoking gun in this case.”

Boyle has denied making such a demand, describing the list as a draft set of suggestions for Coleman, given that the couple had agreed to make New Year’s resolutions.

Cunningham also cited a tender, loving text message Boyle apparently sent to Coleman, one quickly followed by a second message saying: Oops, wrong addressee — April Fool’s, expect painful biting tonight.

“In my submission, it’s just cruel,” Cunningham told the court.

The prosecutor pointed to testimony from Coleman’s older sister and mother as confirmation of Boyle’s domineering nature.

Eric Granger, Greenspon’s co-counsel, said Thursday that evidence from the other witnesses was “limited in nature” and much of it amounted to “subjective impressions” of the situation.

The notion that Coleman’s evidence was clear and unequivocal does not mean it was accurate, he added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2019.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Joshua Boyle trial

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