Leicester Mercury, 17th August 2007
Paedophile David Joy was jailed this week. Lee Marlow talks to the mother of one of his victims
It is more than a quarter of a century since David Joy sat on the sofa in Ann’s front room, drinking her coffee, soft soaping her with his easy charm, gaining her trust – while abusing her youngest daughter.
If she closes her eyes, she can still see him there, chatting, laughing – his off-white teeth peeping through the rat’s nest of his greying beard – and dazzling them with his scholarly intelligence.
David Joy was a popular figure in Barrow-upon-Soar in the late 70s.
He was a clever maths teacher fallen on hard times. His wife and three kids had left him. No-one knew why, when or where to, except that it was “a long way away” and he had little or no contact with them.
Mr Joy adopted the role of village uncle, the kind of easy-going chap you’d be pleased to have as a neighbour.
It wasn’t only Ann and her husband, George, who liked him. Everyone did. Especially the children. He was so good with children, they all said.
He was just so patient, remembers Ann.
“All the youngsters would play at his four-bedroom house in Cave Road. It was like a haven for them.
“There were games laid out in the lounge. They ran around the gardens and played hide and seek in the bedrooms.”
The house was like a pigsty, with toys and games scattered everywhere, yet David would sit back and smile.
He didn’t seem to mind, says Ann. He would just let the kids play. “I like to see them having fun,” he would say when parents wondered about the mess.
As Ann and many other parents would later discover, that was all part of his sinister plan. When the other parents had left, his camera would come out.
The girls, and occasionally boys, if he took a particular shine to one of them, then became his playthings.
Ann’s youngest child was no older than seven or eight when Joy took pictures of her with his camera – snaps which the disbelieving mum would later have to sift through with detectives to piece together a successful court case.
For months, Ann had absolutely no idea anything was wrong.
It was her eldest child, suspicious that Joy wasn’t what he seemed to be, who blew the lid off his seedy little world.
“Even then,” says Ann, “I wasn’t sure at first. I didn’t know what to do.
“I remember sitting there for hours that night, just thinking and thinking. I don’t think I wanted to believe it.”
After a long and miserable night, Ann decided she had to call the police.
They arrived mob handed the next day, took some statements, examined her daughter and treated Ann and her family “as if it was us who had done something wrong”.
They left, warning an angry George not to take the law into his own hands. Joy would get his justice in court, they said, reassuringly.
It seemed to take a long time for the case to come to court.
Ann assumed the police would tell them when the case was to be heard. They didn’t. Instead, she read about it in the Mercury.
Joy was given a suspended sentence. He walked out of court a free man and returned to his home in Barrow.
It was as if nothing had happened, says Ann.
Word spread quickly in Barrow and Joy’s house no longer chimed to the sound of young voices playing in his back garden.
People crossed the road to avoid him. Mums warned their sons and daughters to keep away.
He was shunned by the people who once trusted him – and yet, so were Ann and her family.
“It used to be a lovely, friendly place to live but it all changed after David Joy’s court case,” says Ann.
“We were made to feel, by some people at least, that we had brought shame on to the village, as if it was our fault, that perhaps we should have said nothing. We just tried to do the right thing.”
One night, Joy was attacked. A few weeks later, the downstairs windows of his four-bedroom council home in Cave Road were all smashed. Unsatisfied with the court’s notion of justice, people began dispensing their own.
Yet Joy remained unrepentant. As Ann and her family put the broken pieces of their lives back together, the man responsible for their misery reappeared.
“He knocked on my door one day, a few weeks after the case, and tried to justify it,” recalls Ann, still livid at the thought. Joy asked if she wanted to read about the group he helped lead, the Paedophile Information Exchange.
Ann told him, in no uncertain terms, she wasn’t interested and she didn’t want to see him again. Still, every year, he would send Ann’s youngest daughter a birthday card.
Charnwood Borough Council re-housed him not long after, to a third-floor flat in Russell Street, Loughborough – near a school and overlooking a playground – where he continued to abuse children and add to his grim portfolio of obscene pictures.
“I still saw him around,” says Ann. “I’d see him in Loughborough. We tried our best to bury the memory of him.”
How successful they were in banishing Joy’s legacy, Ann is not entirely sure. Her youngest daughter, now in her 30s, has never really learned to trust men again, she says.
As the years have rolled by, Joy has become the black cloud which occasionally drifts into their lives.
“We live with it, we get on with our lives, but it’s always there,” says George.
Ann had not seen him for years until she picked up Tuesday’s Mercury, with the grainy image of his police mug shot. He hasn’t changed one bit, she says.
“I look at his picture today and I hate him for what he did, but I also feel guilt – that I should have known better. I was so bloody naive.”
Yet, she sighs, he was just so convincing.
“We trusted him. He seemed like such a lovely man. He was a teacher. We had no reason to think he would do anything like that.”
This is Ann’s story. It’s one she has wanted to tell for 25 years, but, she says, no-one ever seemed interested. It feels good to get it all off her chest.
“He used to give interviews all the time,” she says.
“No-one has ever asked me. It’s like we’re the forgotten ones in all of this.
“I remember once, a few years after the case, there was a debate on a local radio station about child abuse.
Ann rang in to tell her story. “I spoke to the producer and he said ‘Your story is not suitable for us, I’m afraid’.
“That’s the way it’s been for us. I hope he does read this, wherever he is now. If he does, he probably won’t even flinch.
“He doesn’t think he’s in the wrong. I hope he never, ever comes out – because he won’t change. He’s evil.”
* Aside from David Joy, the names in this story have been changed.
Thanks to Ian Pace ( ianpace.wordpress.com ) for sending this article.