Nfld. & Labrador

Inmate who died at HMP was accused killer Jonathan Henoche

A 33-year-old man who was incarcerated at Her Majesty's Penitentiary died on Wednesday.

Henoche awaiting trial for 1st-degree murder; sources say incident preceding his death caught on video

Jonathan Thomas Christin Henoche, 33, died following an incident at Her Majesty's Penitentiary on Wednesday. He was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Regula Schule, 88, in July 2016. (Jonathan Henoche/Facebook)

A Labrador man awaiting trial for murder has died after what sources say was a violent altercation with correctional officers at Her Majesty's Penitentiary.   

Jonathan Henoche, 33, died Wednesday in St. John's.

Members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were called to the penitentiary shortly after noon on Wednesday. 

Sources tell CBC News that an altercation started in Unit 2B when two correctional officers approached Henoche.

The violent altercation took place between Henoche and officers, and Henoche was eventually taken to segregation. 

Henoche reportedly suffered a medical emergency following the incident.

CBC News has learned from sources that an incident that preceded Henoche's death was caught on camera.

Call for inquiry

Henoche's lawyer, Bob Buckingham, is calling for a full inquiry by the medical examiner into his client's death. 

"Mr. Buckingham noted that the chief medical examiner has authority under the Fatal Investigations Act to conduct an investigation into a death at a correctional facility but what is required in this instance is a public inquiry," reads a statement from Buckingham's office.

Sources tell CBC an incident that happened before Henoche's death was captured on video. (CBC)

Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, the union that represents correctional officers, said guards were involved in the incident.

"We understand a couple of officers may have been initially assaulted," Earle said, adding there is an active investigation so he cannot comment on specifics.

"Any time correctional officers go to work, people have to realize, it is a really volatile facility. We've heard of incidents before at HMP," Earle said.

Earle said the union has offered support to correctional officers, and he has concerns about emotional effects as well. 

"We're thinking about them and their fellow officers," said Earle, who added the guards involved are not working Thursday. 

Earle's comments, Buckingham's statement said, rules out suicide or other inmate-related reasons.

"The circumstances demand independent inquires."

Buckingham is also the lawyer representing the family of Doug Neary, who took his own life at HMP in August 2017. 

Don't know the facts: minister

The provincial government is not committing to an inquiry, but MHA Brian Warr, who spoke on the matter in the House of Assembly of Thursday on behalf of the Department of Justice, said the correctional officers are co-operating with police. 

"I tip my hat to the correctional officers. They do a fabulous job in our facilities," Warr said during question period.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons was not at Confederation Building, but was reached by phone Thursday afternoon.

Parsons said he is waiting for the cause of death to be determined by the chief medical examiner. 

"We don't know all the facts so it's a bit early to talk about systemic issues," Parsons said.

"What I can say is that when we dealt with the previous issue, we took it very seriously, we went out and had an independent report, and out of that report came a number of recommendations many of which are in place or being implemented as we speak."

Parsons was referring to the independent review conducted by retired police officer Marlene Jesso into the suicides of four inmates within provincial correctional facilities.

Charged in Regula Schule's death

Henoche's next of kin have been notified, and the chief medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death. 

This is the third death at the correctional facility since August 2017.

Henoche was charged with the first-degree murder of well-respected Labrador community leader Regula Schule in 2016.

Schule with her daughter, Susie. Regula met Susie when she was teaching in North West River; Susie was one of her students, and Regula later adopted her. (John Gaudi/CBC)

Schule was found unresponsive in her Happy Valley-Goose Bay home during a fire on July 24, 2016.

After moving to Labrador as a Moravian missionary in the 1960s, Schule worked as a teacher. Not long after she began, she adopted one of her students, Susie.

Schule was a weekly visitor to the inmates in the Labrador Correctional Centre, and following her death, "her boys" built her casket.

Henoche had been transferred out of the Correctional Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to HMP for his own safety.

During a news conference late Thursday afternoon, Buckingham said the education, health-care and justice systems "failed" his client.

"Mr. Henoche was an unlikely champion in that he was burdened with the invisibility of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and with his limited capacity — due to permanent brain damage disability — to raise possible defences within the Newfoundland and Labrador Courts," Buckingham said.

He then took aim at the provincial government for failing to help those with FASD. 

"The death of Mr. Henoche should not be accepted in our community as the death of a prisoner at Her Majesty's Penitentiary. Mr. Henoche was presumed innocent on the charges he faced."

"He had the right to a fair trial."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Ariana Kelland

Investigative reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's. She is working as a member of CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit.

With files from Mark Quinn