A judge has dismissed charges against former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle, who had been accused of assaulting his wife Caitlan Coleman.
Ontario Court Judge Peter Doody says the Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Boyle, 36, committed multiple offences against Coleman, including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement.
Boyle was in the Ottawa courtroom Thursday morning with his parents as Doody delivered the lengthy verdict.
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 the events that led up to Boyle’s arrest in late 2017.
In dismissing assault and sexual assault charges against Boyle, Doody said he didn’t believe Boyle but also had concerns about Coleman’s credibility.
The incidents were alleged to have taken place in Ottawa after Boyle and Coleman returned to Canada following five years as prisoners of Taliban-linked extremists.
The couple was seized in 2012 in Afghanistan during an ill-fated backpacking trip through Asia.
In urging Doody to find Boyle guilty, prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham said Boyle used a calculated mixture of kindness and cruelty to ensnare Coleman in an emotional web.
Cunningham told Doody that Coleman’s credible evidence against Boyle was bolstered by other testimony and documentation painting him as a controlling, dominant husband who instilled fear.
Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who represented Boyle, said reasonable doubt about his client’s guilt amounted to a defence against all of the criminal charges.
Greenspon argued the judge should dismiss Coleman’s allegations, characterizing her testimony as the uncertain recollections of an unstable woman with serious emotional issues.
Coleman had 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,” she told the judge.
Boyle denied making such a demand, describing the list as draft suggestions for Coleman, given the couple had agreed to make New Year’s resolutions.
The prosecutor also pointed to testimony from Coleman’s older sister and mother as confirmation of Boyle’s domineering nature.
Eric Granger, Greenspon’s co-counsel, said evidence from the other witnesses was “limited in nature” and much of it amounted to “subjective impressions” of the situation.
The Canadian Press