OTTAWA — Former overseas hostage Joshua Boyle is lying about his wife Caitlan Coleman’s being a neglectful, unfit mother, a Crown attorney said Monday.
Prosecutor Jason Neubauer said Boyle, who is accused of assaulting Coleman, wants to portray her as a bad parent to feed a larger fiction that Coleman is mentally ill.
Boyle, sitting in the witness box during cross-examination, denied making the allegations up, saying Coleman was an incompetent mother who often hit their eldest child.
Boyle’s assault trial resumed late in the day after several hours of procedural wrangling over whether certain evidence should be allowed.
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 offences are alleged to have taken place after the couple returned to Canada following five years as hostages of Taliban-linked extremists who seized them during a 2012 trip to Afghanistan.
Coleman had three children in captivity in spite of the barely tolerable conditions the family endured.
After release, they returned to Canada and spent time in an Ottawa hotel before finding an apartment. Coleman fled their home in late December 2017, telling police Boyle had repeatedly assaulted her. He was arrested hours later.
Boyle has denied abusing his now-estranged spouse, telling the court she was violent, unstable and prone to fits.
He said during their time as hostages Coleman regularly struck their son on the torso and shook him.
Neubauer accused Boyle of lying, saying he knew that his wife, who testified earlier in the trial, was not abusive.
Boyle shot back: “I know she was and, with respect, you know she was.”
Coleman became semi-catatonic while imprisoned, refusing to feed their son or change his diapers, Boyle said.
After witnessing Coleman’s behaviour for four months, Boyle decided he would divorce her, he testified. However, he denied hating his wife, saying he knew her mind was not where it should be.
Boyle said Coleman’s neglect continued once they were set free.
“I believe she was an incompetent mother, that she was not doing everything necessary,” he said.
Neubauer said if that were true, there is no way Boyle would have stayed in the marriage.
Boyle said he had decided to wait a while before leaving his wife, as he did not want their children to associate their freedom from captivity with having one of their parents ripped away from them.
Neubauer suggested Boyle hated Coleman, and that he once told his wife that if he were a secular person he would kill her.
Boyle denied saying such a thing. “I’ve never hated her.”
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Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press