WARNING: This story contains details of violence and sexual assault that may be disturbing to readers.
Was a man serving 25 years for murder and multiple child kidnappings and rapes in Kingston allowed to work unsupervised outside the minimum-security British Columbia institution where he is incarcerated? The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) says no. But others have claimed the contrary.
In response to our recent coverage of the BC-based parole hearing for Richard Joyce, CSC spokesperson Jean-Paul Lorieau, Regional Manager of Communications for CSC’s Pacific Region, wrote, “Protecting the safety and security of our institutions and our communities is a top priority for the Correctional Service of Canada. While we cannot speak to the specifics of an offender’s case, it is important to note that CSC discloses information to registered victims, in keeping with the law, if they are registered with our victim services to receive information about the offender that harmed them.”
Lorieau was referring to accusations made by Kerri Kehoe, one of Joyce’s child kidnapping and sexual assault victims, about comments made at that hearing by Joyce’s parole officer, Eleanor Creighton, that Joyce had “a position of trust… and could have easily, by all means, just walked down the road” when he was working outside the prison without supervision.
When Parole Board member Carol-Ann Reynen asked Creighton at the hearing who had given clearance for Richard Joyce to be outside of William Head Institution, Creighton refused to answer.
Lorieau told Kingstonist, “Please note that CSC does not permit offenders to leave the perimeter of the institution or be allowed into a community without notifying registered victims beforehand. In the event an inmate crosses the defined perimeter of minimum-security institutional grounds without authorization, it would be considered an escape and a news release would be issued to notify the public and any registered victims would be notified.”
He further explained, “When an offender is working under supervision in the parking area of William Head Institution, there are no violations of law or policy. In relation to the statement about this location during the Parole Board hearing, any offender in this location is within the predetermined perimeter of WHI (William Head Institution) and under supervision.”
Since Joyce’s parole officer, Creighton, did indicate at the hearing (as witnessed by over 80 people) that he had been allowed to work unsupervised and could have “walked away” from the institution at any time if he wished to — as if this showed Joyce’s virtue and self-restraint — was Lorieau saying she was incorrect? Could Joyce have “just walked away”? Was he being supervised? If so, how and by whom?
Lorieau’s answer: “He was supervised, was within the perimeter of the institution, and was never permitted to leave the institution.”
If this is the case, why did Creighton insist that Joyce was allowed to work outside in “a position of trust… and could have easily, by all means, just walked down the road”? And why, when asked, did Creighton refuse to answer Reynen’s question not once, but twice, about who authorized Joyce to be outside of William Head Institution?
It is worth noting that prisoners have walked away from the minimum-security institution before. In 2019 two men escaped William Head, skirting the oceanside facility’s fencing by walking along the shoreline at low tide. They then killed a man living eight kilometres away by “chopping” him to death with a hatchet and bowie knife. At the time of their escape, the warden of the institution told journalists that the two inmates were housed in a minimum-security prison because they had been “cascaded down” to the facility following regular assessments by CSC staff, much like Richard Joyce.
Kehoe has written to the warden of William Head Institution, seeking further answers about Joyce’s level of supervision and the comments at the hearing.
This is a developing story. Kingstonist will provide additional coverage if/when more information becomes available.