Now we know why Richard Charles Joyce (inset), a 44-year-old imprisoned killer, cowered behind his coat collar last Friday as he was led from a prison escort van into a courthouse in Kingston, Ontario. Joyce, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, is no longer a standup guy, no longer just a lifer in the prison subculture. Now, he’s the lowest of the low in the pecking order, a reviled child molester.
Joyce pleaded guilty Monday in Kingston to a 1990 sex attack on a nine-year-old girl he snatched off the street. Judge Rommel Masse called the crime “unspeakably brutal.” Joyce drove the girl to a secluded spot and raped her anally twice, with a knife held to her throat. He tried to vaginally rape her but failed, despite having brought lubricant with him. The girl was too small. Joyce told the child she had to co-operate or he’d kill her and leave her in a ditch. During the attack, he whacked her across the backs of her legs with a snow brush, raising welts. Joyce also forced the child to perform oral sex on him. He drove her back to her neighbourhood and released her, but not before warning that he’d kill her and her mother if they talked to police.
Now a death threat may loom over Joyce’s head, and that may explain his camera shyness (watch video) during his court appearance last week. Joyce does not want to be recognizable in prison, where many other convicts will now consider him a repugnant diddler (child molester) or NG, a prison abbreviation for ‘No Good.’ Among hardcore criminals, child molesters, rapists and informants are considered subhuman and are targeted. During an infamous riot at Kingston Penitentiary in 1971, 14 convicts who fell into this category were tied to chairs and tortured. Two died. Corrections Canada no longer designates any of its penitentiaries as protective custody, but several institutions are well known repositories of some of the worst offenders. A significant percentage of the inmate population at Warkworth Institution, a medium-security prison in Campbellford, Ontario, is comprised of sex offenders. These ‘lowest of the low’ in the criminal subculture can live fairly amicably together. Many prisons also operate special segregation units where high profile and notorious criminals can be held securely, with no contact with other prisoners who might kill them. Serial sex killer Paul Bernardo is housed in a special segregation unit at Kingston Penitentiary. He is locked in his cell for roughly 23 hours a day and he has no contact with other prisoners.
Joyce, who is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years for the 1991 murder of gas bar operator Yvonne Rouleau (along with accomplice Terry Kennedy), was sentenced to 10 years for this child rape. Because he’s already serving life, his sentence is not increased. He’s eligible to seek full parole in 2016. Joyce was in a minimum-security prison with no fences and no armed guards before the sex charges were laid – the result of a DNA match. Kingston Police resubmitted samples from the 1990 sex attack to the Centre of Forensic Sciences and a genetic profile was extracted. It matched to Joyce’s profile already stored in Canada’s national DNA databank of convicted criminals.
Monday was supposed to mark the start of Joyce’s faint hope appeal hearing. He hoped to convince a jury that he was a changed man and deserved a shot at parole earlier than 25 years. He withdrew the application as soon as the sex charges were filed.
(Here’s my former colleague Sue Yanagisawa’s account of Joyce’s guilty plea published in the Whig-Standard.)