Ex-hostage Joshua Boyle faces new set of charges, will be psychologically assessed

Former hostage Joshua Boyle, who faces a new set of 19 charges related to alleged incidents after he returned to Canada, will undergo a 60-day psychological assessment in Brockville, Ont., before his next court appearance.

Boyle to be assessed in Brockville, Ont.; next court appearance scheduled for March 26

Joshua Boyle, who faces 19 criminal charges, is attending a bail hearing Monday. He is seen in this court sketch from a previous court appearance by video. (Lauren Foster-MacLeod)

Former hostage Joshua Boyle, who faces a new set of 19 charges related to alleged incidents after he returned to Canada, will undergo a 60-day psychological assessment in Brockville, Ont., before his next court appearance.

Boyle, 34, appeared in court Friday via a video link from the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, where he has been held since his arrest in Ottawa on New Year's Day

Lawrence Greenspon is representing Boyle along with fellow lawyer Eric Granger. Greenspon told court Friday their client has been seen by a doctor, who found Boyle fit to stand trial but thought he would benefit from a "comprehensive" psychiatric assessment.

The Crown did not object to the request, and the assessment was ordered by the court Friday. The Crown and defence also agreed that the two months set aside for the assessment will not count toward Boyle's right to a trial in a reasonable timeframe. 

In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that provincial court trials must be completed within 18 months of charges being laid.

The agreement reached by the Crown and defence essentially extends that deadline to 20 months in Boyle's case.

The psychiatric assessment will take place in the Brockville Mental Health Centre's secure forensic treatment unit, a 100-bed hybrid correctional and mental health unit with a medium level of security. Boyle is expected to be transferred there in the coming days, and a report will be provided to the court upon its completion.

Boyle's next Ottawa court appearance is scheduled for March 26, once again via video link.

Boyle and his family met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Dec. 19. Boyle was arrested by Ottawa police on New Year's Day. (@boylesvsworld/Twitter)

New set of charges laid

After his arrest, Boyle faced 15 charges relating to two alleged victims, including eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of unlawful confinement, uttering a threat to cause death, public mischief, and administering a noxious substance.

Those original 15 charges were withdrawn by the Crown on Friday, and a new set of 19 charges were entered into the record. The practice is not uncommon, and is known as a relay of charges.

The 19 new charges, which relate to one alleged victim instead of two, are:

  • 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 and Dec. 30. None of the charges has been proven in court.

The identity of the alleged victim is protected by a publication ban.

'The kids and I are doing OK'

Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were freed in October, five years after the couple was abducted while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan. The children were born in captivity.

In an interview with The Fifth Estate's Habiba Nosheen after Boyle's arrest, Coleman said she hopes Boyle gets the help he needs.

"The kids and I are doing OK given the circumstances," said Coleman.

Upon Boyle's return to Canada, he told CBC News that members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network killed their infant daughter and raped his wife during their five years in captivity. The family was moved between 23 different locations within 50 kilometres of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and spent time in both countries.

Boyle said his family was shuffled among at least three prisons. One was remarkably barbaric, he said, while another one was particularly violent. He and his wife were frequently separated and beaten.

Boyle settled into his parents' home in Smiths Falls, Ont., when he returned to Canada in October, but court records show his most recent address was in Ottawa.

A handwritten note posted outside Boyle's Ottawa home shortly after his arrest asked for privacy. (CBC News)

'Never been in trouble'

Granger and Greenspon wrote in an emailed statement to CBC News after Boyle's arrest that he is presumed innocent and has no criminal history.

"He has no criminal record and has never been in trouble with the police. As Mr. Boyle has only just been charged, we are waiting to receive more information (disclosure) about these allegations so that we can respond to them appropriately in court," the statement reads.

"As the matter is currently before the courts, we have no further comments at this time, and Mr. Boyle will not be making any statements."

Ottawa police have declined to comment on the case. A man who answered the phone at the home of Boyle's parents in Smiths Falls said, "We don't have any comment," before hanging up.