Joshua Boyle’s trial opens with estranged spouse electing to lift publication ban

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Joshua Boyle’s trial opens with estranged spouse electing to lift publication ban

by - 3 min read

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The trial of former hostage Joshua Boyle, charged with assault, sexual assault and other offences, began in Ottawa on Monday with one of the alleged victims, his estranged spouse, electing to lift the publication ban on her identity.

Boyle, 35, is facing 19 charges relating to two alleged victims, with Caitlan Coleman named in 17 of them. Coleman was Boyle’s spouse when he was arrested by Ottawa police on Jan. 1, 2018.

The identity of the second victim remains protected by a court-ordered publication ban.

Boyle has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is currently out on bail under house arrest.

Wearing a navy jacket, light pink shirt and black pants, Boyle sat in the Ontario courtroom gallery between his parents, taking notes on a small yellow pad of paper. His father, sitting to his right, also took notes.

Coleman was not in court Monday. Crown lawyer Meaghan Cunningham told court she is currently travelling to Canada, and that her testimony is expected to begin Wednesday.

Defence to question Coleman’s reliability

During her opening remarks, Cunningham told court the Crown expects Coleman’s reliability and credibility will be “vigorously challenged” by Boyle’s defence team.

The Crown expects the defence to argue that Coleman wasn’t behaving like someone who feared Boyle, but rather like a “consenting party.”

The judge will likely be asked to rule on whether Coleman’s testimony accords with common sense and human experience, Cunningham told court, and the Crown will argue that Coleman’s years in captivity and in an abusive relationship had a “profound effect” on her, making her human experience different than most.

Evidence will be called about how police came to be involved in the first place, including a 911 call made in the early hours of Dec. 30, 2017.

Witnesses will include a forensic identification officer who took part in a search warrant at the couple’s home, a neighbour who made observations about the family, Coleman’s mother and two sisters, and a government worker who accompanied the Boyle family on their flight to Canada after years in captivity.

The first witness, registered social worker Deborah Sinclair, is being asked to testify about abusive relationships and how victims of trauma behave, but will not comment on Boyle and Coleman or their relationship specifically.

5 years in captivity

Boyle and Coleman were abducted while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan in 2012.

Their return to Canada in October 2017, alongside three children they had during their five years in captivity in Afghanistan and Pakistan, made international headlines.

They went first to Smiths Falls, Ont., where Boyle’s parents live, then moved to Ottawa.

Boyle was arrested by Ottawa police on New Year’s Day in 2018, less than three months after his return to Canada, and was charged with the offences.

His eight-week trial by judge alone is being overseen by provincial court Judge Peter Doody.

Boyle is being represented by defence lawyers Lawrence Greenspon and Eric Granger, while Cunningham and Jason Neubauer are handling the case for the Crown.

Charges Boyle is facing

The 19 charges Boyle is being tried on include:

  • 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.

Police allege the offences happened in Ottawa between Oct. 14, 2017, and Dec. 30, 2017.

This story originally appeared on CBC

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