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Boyle denies drugging estranged wife against her will

Former hostage Joshua Boyle — accused of assaulting his now-estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman — denies drugging her to make her more compliant, and said in court on Tuesday he only offered her his medication to calm her.

Boyle says he shared prescription drug trazodone with wife to aid with her panic attacks

Joshua Boyle denies drugging his then-wife Caitlan Coleman, saying in November 2017 he offered her some of his prescription but didn't see her take it. (Canadian Press and Creative Commons)

Former hostage Joshua Boyle — accused of assaulting his now-estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman — denies drugging her to make her more compliant, and said in court on Tuesday he only offered her his medication to calm her.

Boyle is on trial for 17 charges — including assault with a weapon, sexual assault and forcible confinement — related to actions he's accused of committing in late 2017 after he and Coleman were freed following nearly six years as captives of Taliban-linked extremists in Afghanistan. Two charges were dismissed because of the low likelihood of a conviction. 

Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

One of the 17 charges he faces relates to administering a noxious substance, trazodone.

Boyle told the court he took trazodone because of the recurring nightmares he was having after his family's ordeal in Afghanistan.

Boyle said on Nov. 5, 2017, his wife was having a panic attack. He said in response he looked online and saw his prescription could be used to deal with anxiety, and offered Coleman some of the medication while she was taking a shower. 

Boyle told the Crown he was unsure what dosage he gave Coleman or if she took the pills he left in the bathroom.

"I remember her hands were wet. I remember putting them on the back of the toilet," Boyle told the court. "I indicated to her the trazodone was there."

"Whether or not she took it was up to her."

Coleman said Boyle forced her to take trazodone

In previous testimony, Coleman said her husband forced her to take three trazodone tablets– double the dose he takes. She told court in March that she refused and Boyle hit her in the face, forcing her to take the prescription. She told the court she then felt dizzy, as though she was drunk.

On Tuesday, Crown lawyer Jason Neubauer accused Boyle of forcing her to take the drug to sedate her and to make her do what he wanted.

"You're just making this all up Mr. Boyle," Neubauer said. "Mr. Boyle you can clearly see Ms. Coleman was suffering the effects of the medication. Her demeanour wasn't normal."

Boyle denied the Crown's accusation.

Throughout the trial, Boyle denies assaulting his wife or holding her against her will.

Boyle said he was the victim of physical and emotional abuse from his wife and she repeatedly demanded sex from him; saying that her appetite had grown since leaving captivity.

Boyle is expected to return to the witness stand Wednesday.

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.