Former hostage Joshua Boyle contradicts estranged wife's testimony

Former hostage Joshua Boyle took the witness box at his trial in Ottawa Wednesday, contradicting many of the accusations made against him by his estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman.

Boyle facing 17 charges involving estranged wife Caitlan Coleman

Joshua Boyle testified at his trial on Sept. 4, 2019. He's facing 17 charges including sexual assault and forcible confinement involving his estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman. (Laurie Foster-MacLeod/CBC)

Former hostage Joshua Boyle took the witness box at his trial in Ottawa Wednesday, contradicting many of the accusations made against him by his estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman.

Boyle is facing 17 criminal charges including assault with a weapon, sexual assault and forcible confinement, crimes 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.

Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.     

Boyle initially faced 19 charges, but on Wednesday the trial judge dismissed two of them — a charge of sexual assault using ropes, and misleading police into thinking his wife was missing and suicidal.

The judge said the Crown can decide to bring back modified versions of those charges at a later date.         

Coleman in control: Boyle

Wearing a dark button-up shirt, Boyle offered his version of his relationship with Coleman, starting with their ill-fated trip to South Asia in 2012.

He testified he never misled Coleman about the plan to travel to Afghanistan, contradicting Coleman's earlier testimony. Boyle said Coleman lied to her parents because she didn't want them to know the couple was travelling to a war-torn territory.

Boyle said his wife was in control at all times and carried their money and passports "because women are less likely to be searched and mugged."

Caitlan Coleman is seen leaving court in Ottawa on March 27, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Denies abuse allegations

He said their captors offered to free him several times, but he rejected the offer because he didn't want to abandon Coleman and their children, who were born in captivity.

Boyle denied his estranged wife's claims that he abused her while the couple was being held captive. In fact, Boyle said, the reverse was true: it was Coleman who was emotionally and physically abusive, he testified.

On one occasion, Boyle said Coleman attempted to trade his life to their hostage-takers for a piece of candy — to "leverage" his execution in exchange for chocolate, he testified.

Boyle said he told his wife several times that he planned on seeking a divorce once they were released.

"She made several missteps that made it impossible to continue my marriage to her in freedom," he testified.

Boyle said Coleman also harmed herself, striking herself against a wall and attempting suicide.

"Understandably, captivity was very difficult on her," Boyle said.

Joshua Boyle arrives at court in Ottawa on March 25, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

'Manic' sex demands

Boyle said BDSM — erotic role-playing involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism — was a regular part of the couple's sexual relationship both during and after their time as hostages. Often, they would "playfully" bite one another in captivity, he testified.

"We had love bites in our relationship," Boyle said in court. "She had previously identified with the vampire subculture."

Back in Ottawa, Boyle said he would engage in consensual BDSM acts that involved Coleman being tied up with rope while they had sex.

"If there were instances where she didn't want to have sex, we didn't have sex." Boyle said. "It was strictly playful between us."

If anything, Boyle said, Coleman's appetite for sex intensified when they returned to Canada. He said he suspects she wanted to have another baby in hopes that he would change his mind about seeking a divorce.

"She was manic on sex demands because she wanted to become pregnant," Boyle told the court.

Not a control freak

Boyle also denied he was cold and demeaning to his wife after they were released from captivity.

During previous testimony, Coleman, her sister and mother testified that Boyle often made his wife do all the chores and take care of their three children.

In fact, Boyle said, it was he who had to assume most of the responsibilities of raising their children and cooking meals after their return.

Coleman's mental health worsened and she was unable to take care of the family or herself, he testified. At times, Boyle said, he had to remind Coleman to bathe, and sometimes resorted to giving her sponge baths.

"She was neglectful at the best of times," Boyle said.

Boyle's testimony will continue Thursday morning. It's expected the Crown will cross-examine him.