Richard Charles Joyce, who has been imprisoned in a federal facility for over 30 years for murder and for sexual assault against children, was denied parole and escorted temporary visits following a hearing on Sept. 7.
The prisoner at William Head Institution in Metchosin, B.C., had recently applied for escorted temporary absences for what the parole board called “community service and personal development.” However, the case management team said at the hearing that Mr. Joyce “requires a gradual reintegration to the community before there is any consideration of a full parole.”
Mr. Joyce, 55, is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, three kidnappings, and two sexual assaults with a weapon as well as other sexual and weapon offences.
After 20 years in jail, forensic evidence connected him to the sexual assault of a 9-year old girl. Following publicity surrounding the incident, the mother of a 9-year-old victim with Down syndrome came forward, as well as Kerri Kehoe, who was 11 when she was sexually assaulted.
Ms. Kehoe testified, as did the brother-in-law of the murder victim and the mother of one of the other victims.
“Mr. Joyce does not have the capability of being remorseful and without that capability, he will always be a threat,” testified the brother-in-law, whose name was not announced.
“We have already had so much of our lives ripped apart from us. We have paid a way heavier toll than Mr. Joyce has ever or could.”
The board acknowledged that Mr. Joyce “ruined the lives of his victims. They were severely traumatized by his behaviour. The victims suffer from paralyzing flashbacks, anxiety, extreme agitation, hypervigilance, anger, blackouts, hypersensitivity, lack of sleep, loss of employment … [and] PTSD.”
Prior to interrogating Mr. Joyce, the board said he was considered a “moderate risk” for sexual reoffending.
Mr. Joyce: ‘My Emotions Were Gone’A parole board member who led the interrogation asked Mr. Joyce about what motivated his crimes. The board was curious why someone with a good upbringing and without poverty could turn out as he did.
Mr. Joyce said he suffered with depression “as long as he could remember” and really started to “sink” in his teens. He said he tried to kill himself with pills before the murder.
“There were very few things that gave me any form of happiness or positive emotion or anything of that nature, and I was looking for stronger and stronger experiences. The only time I was happy, period, was pretty much when I was with my family, especially with my nieces, or having sex,” he said.
“At my lowest levels when I started to feel, started my offending, I had apathy. … There was no empathy towards anybody, my emotions were gone.”
The interrogator told him that was consistent with “psychopathy.” She asked why he remained silent about his pedophilic crimes, having first sought parole more than 12 years ago.
Mr. Joyce said he was “sorry” for his crimes, but felt he would “lose everything” if he had confessed and he did not want to jeopardize spending time with his family.
When the lead parole board member asked if he’d ever offended against his developmentally challenged 9-year-old niece during PFEs (private family visits), he answered: “I never touched them. I was always happy around them. I never needed emotion-seeking around them. I was always happier around my family.”
According to his file, Mr. Joyce had had more than 50 sexual encounters. He was asked why he used threats and violence to get sex when he could get it anyway.
Mr. Joyce said in cases where he acquired sex with violence, it was probably for “feeling in power and control of my life.” He later added, “I had a great deal of difficulty recognizing genuine emotions, period.”
One parole board member noted that Mr. Joyce could have escaped from his work placement cutting firewood outside the prison.
“They were just outside the gate here for a couple of years … so it was a position of trust. I mean, he could have easily, by all means, just walked down the road. He didn't, so there was no concerns out there.”
A prison chaplain said she puts Mr. Joyce “at a low risk [to reoffend].”
‘Harder Questions’After the parole board decided not to allow escorted passes or parole for Mr. Joyce, Ms. Kehoe said she was relieved.
“I was told prior to the hearing three times, the Parole Board of Canada does not warehouse offenders for the rest of their lives. So I felt like I was being prepared that he was going to receive escorted passes in the community, but just be denied parole,” she told the Western Standard.
“I think the parole board asked the questions they asked because the public was watching. They were harder questions. They were more direct and they called him out on being contradictory.”
The testimony that Joyce could have made an escape while cutting firewood surprised Ms. Kehoe. She said she was still “trying to digest things that he said” that were new to her.
“I didn't know he was that sick and twisted. Like to say the things that he said—I can't comprehend the things that he was saying,” she said.
“It just made no sense at all.”