Alphonse Le Gastelois, ‘King of the Ecréhous’, dies at 97

A JERSEYMAN who lived in self-imposed exile on the Ecréhous reef for 14 years after being wrongly accused of a string of child sex attacks has died aged 97.

Alphonse Le Gastelois in August 1970 when he was the lone inhabitant of the Ecréhous reef Picture: JAMES L AMOS/CORBIS
Alphonse Le Gastelois in August 1970 when he was the lone inhabitant of the Ecréhous reef Picture: JAMES L AMOS/CORBIS

A JERSEYMAN who lived in self-imposed exile on the Ecréhous reef for 14 years after being wrongly accused of a string of child sex attacks has died aged 97.

For years, the finger of guilt was pointed at Alphonse Le Gastelois during the Beast of Jersey’s 20-year reign of terror.

As the hysteria reached fever pitch, Mr Le Gastelois sought solitary refuge on the reef six miles off Jersey’s north-east corner.

His story became a cause célèbre and the bearded character soon established himself as the ‘King of the Ecréhous’ and became an attraction for those visiting the reef, where he stayed until 1975.

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Comments for: "Alphonse Le Gastelois, ‘King of the Ecréhous’, dies at 97"

peter price

Another case of an innocent man being found guilty of a crime he never commited. The States Police took this man's clothes and never returned them so he was left to live a life in rags!

Joe

The clothes which he is wearing in the above picture look presentable enough.

truthseeker

A bi'tot Mon garcon....Forever The KIng of Les Ecrehous...wrongly accused,he sought sanctuary on that unforgiving reef,where ha had eaten washed up raw fish in winter to survive. and even when the right person was caught and dealt with,the slimey Govt only voted him a measly 20k by 28 votes....we know who the 'no' votes were who will have to face their own consciences...why was it not unanimous..it was clear he had been wronged...but no the Jersey cowards wanted to still shun the situation like they had shunned Alphonse.just like they tried to hide Haut de la Garrene's dark past.well the truth is the truth and that's that..I sincerely hope a memorial stone stating his innocence is put on the reef in memory of his strength and courage,rest now Jersey boy it's over.

Farewell

Truthseeker that is a inspiring farewell. I do not know the background of this story but your view has put a more comprehensive insight on the story than the article above. Rest in peace Jersey Boy.

Sam

Truthseeker, I don't actually know who it was that voted no, if you have a list I'd be really interested to see it.

In one of the old interviews with Alphonse I saw today he described his treatment by the authorities as being "like the old days". I presume he meant the old days of the German occupation. Looks like Jersey never changes.

Poor Alphonse.

Beaumont

As a kid growing up in the 70's, this man was of legendary status

His story sums up Politicians of all eras, including this one. They are power crazed scumbags and liars, who only care about themselves. They couldn't give a monkeys about normal folk, and the impact their decisions have upon them

Ped antics

Alphonse would have been a kid growing up in the 40s or 50s, not the 70s(no apostrophe needed)!

Sem antics

Err, no, being born in 1914, he would have been growing up in the 20s or 30s, not the 40s or 50s (no "O" level maths needed)!

The Thinker

I am not and never have been a politician, however I think you are taking a generalisation to the extreme. Whilst I agree that there are many politicians who are there to make money and power I think it is totally wrong for you to tar every single politician with the same tar brush. They are not all 'power crazed scumbags and liars, who only care about themselves'.

There are some politicians of all persuasions who are actually in it for the right reasons and who do make a difference. There are politicians who stood up against Slavery, allowing women to vote, securing a minimum wage, creating the National Health Service shall I go on ? And before you start to scream and yell locally there have been many fine politicians who have greatly benefited their community through no personal gain whatsoever.

People are not the same - judge everyone individually.

Bob

In the early 70s we had a Scout camping weekend on Les Ecrehous. I remember our leader was told that it was good etiquette to take the 'King' a bottle of something, which he did. Alphonse used to sit in his chair outside, talking to the grown ups on our trip, while we skimmed stones on the water.

Alphonse asked us to stop throwing stones in the sea. When we asked why, he said,'if all my visitors did that my island would disappear'.

Blue Knight

Repose en paix Alphonse. False accusations are damaging not only to the alleged offender, but also to the whole process of investigating child abuse.

It seems the police will often be in a no win situation. If they listen to an accuser and interview an innocent person, they are criticised. On the other hand if they are sceptical about an allegation, they are similarly criticised.

I doubt there will be many JEP readers of today, will know who Alphonse Le Gastelois' accuser or accusers were, or what exactly they accused him of. If errors were made in this case, then clearly that is to be regretted.

Truthseeker's comments are unhelpful as he / she is unlikely to know the full facts about Alphonse Le Gastelois, or the Haut de la Garrene debacle.

Rumour mongering on the other hand may often cause irreparable damage to an innocent person's reputation.Where there is insufficent evidence people should not be prosecuted.

Truthseeker's accusations about Haut de la Garrene maybe just speculation or just rumour mongering - none of us can be sure of the truth of what occurred all those years ago.

Queen's Counsel

To your wise words can be added the thought that we may well never know the truth in respect of the matter of which Alphonse was falsely accused- given the numerous defects in the trial of the eventual defendant, it is entirely possible that a wrongful conviction followed.

One thing which has been conveniently forgotten for all these years is something which Mr Le G said in an interview with the Evening Post in December 1971. He said that he thought that the convicted person, a man against whom no direct evidence was offered in court, was not the right man.

He added that he had told the police who the real perpetrator was, but they were not interested, having been concerned only with securing a conviction against someone who was believed to have been suffering from mental health issues.

If the real story ever comes out, we may eventually be lamenting the persecution of not one but two persons.

Blue Knight

Q.C. - Unfortunately I wasn't on the Island and so I can't comment on the J.E.P. interview with Alphonse Le Gastelois.

Policing, indeed like much of the rest of society, is imperfect. If as you say that information given to the police was ignored, then this was a neglect of duty. I imagine however, whoever the officers were, they have long since retired and may even be deceased themselves. God will be their judge.

With greater scrutiny of policing nowadays, I would hope there is less likelihood of a recurrence of this regrettable occurrence.

the thin wallet

oh how i would love to read a good transcript of the whole sorry tale.

the lump under the carpet is large.

i remember "the king of les ecrehous" and what my parents had told me .

so his tale is alive for a few more years .

Mjolnir de Jersiaise

There was plenty of evidence against the person who was eventually convicted.

John

All of the evidence (such as it was) was circumstantial and much of it was tainted, I am afraid. Add to that the selective prosecution of only certain offences in order to allow the use (or abuse some would say) of the "similar fact" doctrine.

Straffen

It is funny how Mr Le G seemed to think otherwise. He of all people would have welcomed a conviction; instead, he cited a possible miscarriage.

If one takes the time to study the various books and the judgment in the case, then a picture of only partially revealed evidence and the manipulation of the then criminal justice process begins to emerge.

Mjolnir de Jersiaise

After Alphonse left Jersey, following his persecution by locals, the attacks continued; but after Paisnel was arrested, the attacks ended and have never happened since. Even if the evidence was mainly circumstantial - and possibly tainted (I can't comment on that as I'm not a legal expert) - are there any alternative explanations as to why this happened?

Also, I don't understand how Mr Le G could have possibly known who the real perpetrator was.

Fred

As it happens, the evidence was entirely (not mainly) circumstantial. In addition, the trial process was beset with various irregularities.

Whether or not Alphonse could possibly have known about another perpetrator is not a matter upon which you can validly comment. What we do know, is that he publicly expressed his view. Given his position, that view must carry some considerable weight.

Ultimately, it all depends upon whether you are prepared to believe the version of the criminal prosecution that you have read in the newspapers. It certainly looks as though that is the case, if your comments are anything to go by.

Others, Mr Le G included, clearly take a different view, particularly those who have read the various books and crucially, the judgment in the case. As you admit, you are not legally qualified and therefore are perhaps not in a position to have a view on the way in which particular evidence was admitted and dealt with by the court which, incidentally, sat without a jury.

It may be coincidence that the attacks stopped or, in the alternative, another perpetrator may have been discouraged by the prosecution. It is also possible that another perpetrator may have left the island- it is significant in this regard to note that no attacks took place between 1966 and August 1970.

Peter Robson

Queen's Counsel,

You are correct. I took a French Journalist from Paris Match on a friend's boat to interview Alphonse at the outset of the trial of Paisnel on the Ecrehose (spelling?) and remember clearly that he, Alphonse, did not think Paisnel had been responsible, at least for all the crimes.

I would also make the point, touched on here before, that although living in solitude (which I suspect he rather enjoyed) he also lived in very reasonable comfort, being supplied with 'supplies' from the good people of St. Martin. He also provided some invaluable weather and rescue information via a radio system which had been set up by the relative people in Jersey.

He was an engaging character, which was evident as the French journalist was young and pretty!

Pierre Anglais

I

spec

You and I have different meanings to the word comfort. I for one would not be comfortable with a sheet thrown over my head and a candle for a heat source when the weather was cold enough to freeze the sea.

Yes there were times when he could lie back and put his feet up and there were times when that rock almost killed him.

truthseeker

You really need to get a grip blue knight as an ex cop you demonstrate the trait of never being in the wrong..it was detectives who released his name to the press.without 'knowing' it was him....the feeding frenzy that ensued is what ruined his life...trying to imply I don't have all the facts is a typical low life cop strategy...|NO excuses he was wrongly accused and his name was wrongly released by cops who should have but were not fired over it ..whereas he,poor bugger had to live with the consequences, you don't even live here so butt out and give it a break.

Blue Knight

Truthseeker - People who seek the truth are supposed to have an open mind.

As I said in a previous post, policing -like the rest of society is often imperfect.

I am often wrong, but I suspect you consider yourself to be knowledgeable of all things and incapable of error.

You are clearly self delusional. However you have no idea whether I was aware of the facts, you presume I knew.

Your bigotry is obvious and my late

Mother told me not to argue with fools, as you will never win.

truthseeker

Police detectives released his name...they were not made to pay in any way....ruin a mans life,and walk away unscathed...we all know what the police are like.

Blue Knight

Truthseeker - I am not sure it is politically correct to say this nowadays, however - you can't tar all coppers with the same brush.

I won't deny I witnessed corruption, but I believe the majority were rooted out, disciplined and sacked.

I think you'll find corruption in all walks of life, politicians, lawyers, doctors, journalists etc., etc. All are capable of ruining people's lives.

Queen's Counsel

I tend to agree with Blue Knight. Things are not perfect, least of all policing and the judicial system.

I examined the response posted by BK in the wake of reading your objection and the response seems to be a sensible and detached comment.

Do try and keep things in perspective, Truthseeker. The value of this forum is that things can be discussed. It's not all about conspiracy and cover ups.

BK might not live here now but he was in the Jersey force at one time. That alone makes his observations of interest, quite apart from anything else.

As BK said, God will be the judge of all those who engage in policing, doubtful or otherwise.

truthseeker

Excuses...excuses....none for the man whose life was trashed,his house sold.....venal, sadistic treatment is what's dished out here...I know the deceipt and sculduggery makes some uncomfortable....but the truth sits comfortably with me....should have been an eye for an eye.....trying to excuse or diminish responsibility for a group who have so very much to answer for but never will is plain sick.German consul, roger holland,stuart syvret dawn swat raid, Graham Power,...need I really go on

Queen's Counsel

There are many things cited there which are not germane to the issue in hand.

One rather suspects that you know very little about the cases of which you speak.

The Thinker

I think BK is as entitled as anyone else on here to give his opinion. What BK has to say seem fair and appropriate. I was living in Jersey at the time, and still do and I think it is a true statement of fact, that YOU don't have all the facts of the case. Your comment that BK uses 'typical low life cop strategy' in putting forward an opinion at odds to your own is in poor taste. Mind you his retort to one of your many mindless attacks on him was extremely well worded - there is no point in arguing with a fool !

Now I really don't know the circumstances behind the fact that Alphonse was regarded as a suspect in the case. Undoubtedly there was some extremely poor and inept handling of aspects of the case. Undoubtedly what should have happened was an enquiry and if offences either within the criminal law or for that matter the police rules and regulations revealed appropriate action should have been taken. Undoubtedly greater efforts should have been made through the States by way of an apology and far greater amount of compensation should have been paid.

The people who made the important decisions at the time are no longer holders of those positions, many of them now deceased. Times have changed and hopefully such errors will not be repeated again in this day and age.

Tooth Fairy

"Truthseeker’s comments are unhelpful as he / she is unlikely to know the full facts about Alphonse Le Gastelois, or the Haut de la Garrene debacle."

BK, given that you had retired from the Jersey police and in fact left Jersey before the HdlG investigation began do you not see an irony in your response to Truthseeker?

Unless you know the "full facts" about the HdlG investigation (as you rightly say none of us can be sure of the truth of what occurred all those years ago), other than what you read in the 'newspaper' you are in no position to deride it as a 'dabacle'.

As the government has admitted liability - by agreeing to pay compensation to the victims - there must be a lot of truth in the stories that emerged from there. This, whether or not the various tests for bringing a prosecution were passed.

Blue Knight

Tooth Fairy - With regards to civil claims, the standard of proof is lower than that in a criminal court. If you read my earlier responses concerning HdlG, I have not said that allegations were untrue; I said there was insuffienct evidence to prove these claims in a criminal court - that is quite different.

Claims were made that the authorities and the police in particular, ignored complaints of child abuse. That is an insult to a number of officers who worked tirelessly on this type of investigation.Indeed to me personally, it is quite hurtful - I am certain I never igored any complaint of a crime.

Unless you were a victim yourself, you can't say with any certainty, that complaints made to the Children's Service or the police were ignored or hushed up.

If there is proof that complaints were ignored, then I agree 100%, that those who were responsible should be rightly condemned.

Any skulldugery by the police in cases like this, including that involving Alphonse Le Gastelois, must be deplored. If mistakes were made, then I am personally sorry.

When I have spoken of the HdlG case as being a debacle, I refer to the way the case was handled. Clearly I was not not privy to much of the evidence, but I could see from afar that the hullabaloo, resultant of the press strategy, would be unhelpful. It had the potential to plant ideas in people's minds that were untrue.

There is little point going back over old ground. The island's authorities need to look at ways of ensuring that - if these complaints were genuine - (to reiterate I am not denying they weren't true, I am merely uncertain), nothing like this occurs again. Lessons need to be learnt, but ininformed rants won't help one iota.

I have strayed from the point of the news article and that was to note the passing of Alphonse Le Gastelois. I hope that where miscarriages of justice have occurred, that those responsible realise their wrongdoing. R.I.P.

Mary Poppins

Agreeing to pay compensation can be done without any admission of liability.

It seems rather naive to say that, because someone had retired from the police when the HDLG sensationalism kicked off in 2008, they would have had no knowledge of what, if indeed anything, was going on there in previous decades.

Blue Knight

Mary Poppins - I am not sure what you are trying to say. Unless you actually served in the police, you don't know what individual officers knew or didn't know.

I imagine even today, lots of information is withheld from those in the lower echelons, as indeed it was in my day.

Of course there are always rumours, but we all know what sort of problems they cause. I prefer to listen to facts.

It's funny you always find the wise guys on the J.E.P. site, who want to snipe at the police and former police officers. Never mind I've had a life times experience of that. I suppose it's to be expected if I poke my head above the parapet.

Mary Poppins (again)

You've taken the post in the wrong way, BK. The fault is probably mine for my shortcomings in expressing myself.

What I meant was that the apparent dismissal of your opinion by "Toothfairy" on the ground that you were retired by 2008 was misconceived, given the fact that you are perhaps in a better position to know the real facts from your previous years of occupation than many who come on here purporting to do so.

You will have gathered by now that there was no intention to have a snipe at the police.

Blue Knight

Mary Poppins - If I misinterpreted your comments, then I apologise. I am probably getting paranoid in my old age.

Blade

I whole heartedly agree with truthseeker.

The injustice this man endured was horrific from our government and the people of Jersey. Alphonse was persecuted and accused of the most horrendous crimes and was NEVER full apologised to or compensated for the gross injustice this man endured for most of his life.

We see our government give taxpayers money to people who invested wrongly to the tune of 600k because they were stupid. We see Alan Clanger Maclean pour £10 million down the drain on the town park and about to pour another £10 million.

Alphonse may you rest in peace and all those that caused you such injustice in your life I hope they hang their heads in shame and remember the crimes they did against you.

Peace

grantlauren

rip sir, i hope they dident see 97 ,god seen you ok not them god bless you

Mac

Nice one truth seeker, Haute de la Garene, if you recall, went through a full investigation, are you suggesting the innocent should also be accused without any evidence as this fine gentleman was.

Warren J

On the subject of The Beast, Paisnel, he too was a well known carracter in an era when the residents of Jersey were known to each other. In investigating this case, I understand all males in Jersey were fingerprinted, though about 10, Paisnel included, due to their relationship with the 'authorities' were able to be excused !!!

Sarah

What you are talking about there is palm printing. Peter Crill's memoirs mention compulsory fingerprinting, but there is no evidence that this in fact occurred. I understand that three people (Paisnel included) living in the east of the island refused. That "fact" appears in Joan Baker's book, ghost written by fleet street journalists and may or may not be correct.

In any event, regardless of whether or not one has a relationship with the authorities, it would not be possible to compel anyone to give prints. In other words, you would not need friends in high places in order to refuse.

The Paisnel case has given rise to numerous other rumours and falsehoods which have been passed down over the years by those who have not bothered to research the matter. There are many things that are very odd about the case and the ensuing conviction. Most commentators seem to forget that Paisnel was only convicted of six attacks out of twenty-five. The question remains as to who was responsible for the remaining incidents.

Even then, the conviction was secured on evidence which was entirely circumstantial and in a situation where a jury could not be found because the national press had aired all the evidence as it had come out in the “old style” committal hearings. This irresponsible reporting, made despite requests from the court, kept rumours rife until the eventual trial and showed that lessons had not been learnt from the victimisation of Mr Le Gastelois.

The conviction was eventually delivered by two jurats who only bothered to take thirty-five minutes to consider five days of evidence.

Unfortunately, all but one of those involved in the judicial process is now deceased. It is more likely than not that the real truth will never be known.

C Le Verdic

I was one of those who was fingerprinted, even though only a teenager way outside the offender profile.

I've been a good boy ever since as I never trusted them to destroy the fingerprints, like they said they would. Anyone know if they really did? In front of witnesses, rather than just making a statement that they had after backing them up elsewhere.

JS

I was told a story of a young chap who received some burns whilst in the Ecréhous. Alphonse raised the alarm by jumping into his boat and rowing...yes rowing back to Jersey...

I was told this story by my father who was at the time in the police force - he accompanied Alphonse back to the Ecréhous to pick up the unfortunate chap and bring him back to Jersey.

kevin Aubin-Mauger

update of a few years ago,The real beast of jersey.dont worry wont bring that monster back again,by typing his name EDWARD PAISNEL

THE REAL BEAST OF JERSEY WAS RELEASED FROM PARKHURST prison,was given a house to stay in on THE ISLE OF WHITE, DIED ON THE ISLE OF WHITE,AND WAS BURIED ON THE ISLE OF WHITE.

Paul

That is all quite correct if you believe everything that you have been fed over the past four decades.

the thin wallet

like the deceased, who were found alive and kicking in france ?

Geoff

The fact is that this man was wrongly accused and it ruined his life. He was given 20k in compensation and some politicians voted that he shouldn't get any compensation at all. What a disgrace, this man's treatment makes me ashamed to call myslef a Jerseyman. Rest in peace.

rogerwing

I lived around the corner from Alphonse who I knew as a quiet solitary harmless figure of a man who kept to himself, his only crime was the fact that he was seen as a strange person who took long walks alone sometimes with a dog late at night whilst everyone else was in bed. The rumours about him started and he was abused and his life was made a total misery by quite a few locals, some lower rank honory officials had a hand in this torment that he sufferred mostly in silence. When he left to go into solitary exile, if there was any evidence linking him to the offences then certainly the States and Honorary Police did little to properly investigate him for quite a long period of time using his leaving of Jersey as a breathing space for them.Hev was of course an innocent man, who in todays world would has been helped by the social services. Lets not forget that Alphonse has his house taken from him to be sold by the States to recover unpaid rates whilst he was away.

the thin wallet

good grief they even stole his house .

where was it and who purchased it??

the thin wallet

if there is to be a memorial stone , it should not be on the ecrehous.

let it be on a headland that has good sight of the tiny islands.

for all to see and contain the words wrongly accused .

would love to know who voted no.

Peter Colback

Hi,

Sopt on and I have a heart for getting this arranged. Will you help?

I have setup a page on FB at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alphonse-Le-Gastelois-Memorial-Group/312958635455442 initially or search on Alphonse Le Gastelois Memorial Group

I'd like to use your suggestion and wording.

Kind Regards

Peter

Melissa Carter

Have you stopped to think about how much all this 'Hype' about Mr Le Gastelois is affecting his relatives ? Do you think his niece and nephew and their families would want a memorial ? Maybe you should ask them.

Blade

I have long seen many of the injustices that have taken place in Jersey. For many of the people that this has happened to they have not been compensated for a life’s work that was taken away from them.

From the making of a law behind the backs of the Jersey public to flood Queens valley, to the bringing in of GST with a petition of 20,000 people.

The hounary police having paedophiles in them that have been charged on countless occasions, the worst was in St Helier the Roger Holland case.

The authorities in Jersey have a lot to answer too.

Poor Alphonse was a just another scape goat for the incompetent government officials. Nothing has changed in Jersey

R B Bougourd

Once, when I was 'down' at the Ecréhous, Alphonse told me that he was put in the frame because a witness claimed that the attacker wore a piece of string around his waist. That was exactly how Alphonse was dressed when he spoke to me, a legth of sisal holding his coat fronts together, as he proudly pointed out. I guess he probably lunched fairly often on that story.

Fairly circumstantial and not enough to exclude others, such as Paisnel, with unusual sartorial quirks from the investigation.

I have no recollection of Alphonse having a rowing boat available on the occasions when we visited him. I believe that in later years he was lent an emergency battery operated radio to summon help. It used to be a regular Christmas skite for Pat Gruchy, Frank Jeune and others to go and make sure that he was well.

I, too, was finger printed (at Grouville Parish Hall) even though I was of similar age to most of the victims at the time of the earlier attacks. I don't recollect having palm prints taken. If I'd thought that might have been contended fifty years later, I would have kept notes.

RIP

Rest in peace, you have it now.

Jersey never gave it to you.

truthseeker

28 voted to clear his name and compensate him...who were the naysayers....we need to know ...?

Delly Belly

The States of Jersey wouldn't have voted to clear his name(indeed they wouldn't have been able to because that is not a function of a parliament) because his name was already cleared.

truthseeker

They voted against the reparation and that IS the point,you'd put your name to getting it right if you were not reluctant for spurious reasons,resentful, and you would if you simply were a decent human being.

Delly Belly

The minutes of the states sitting of 14th September 1999 reads as follows. URL is:

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyMinutes/1999/States%20Minutes%2014th%20September%201999.pdf

THE STATES commenced consideration of a proposition of Senator John Stephen Rothwell on Alphonse Le

Gastelois: ex gratia payment and accepted a proposition of the Connétable of St. Helier that strangers do

withdraw to enable the debate to be held in camera.

Members present voted as follows -

“Pour” (28)

Senators

Le Maistre, Stein, Bailhache, Syvret, Walker.

Connétables

St. Lawrence, St. Brelade, Grouville, St. Helier, St. Martin, Trinity.

Deputies

H. Baudains(C), Coutanche(L), St. Mary, S. Baudains(H), Trinity, Pullin(S), Johns(H), Duhamel(S),

Routier(H), Breckon(S), St. John, Crowcroft(H), de la Haye(B), Dubras(L), St. Ouen, G. Baudains(C),

Le Claire(H).

“Contre” (7)

Senators

Horsfall, Rothwell, Kinnard.

Connétables

St. Peter, St. Clement.

Deputies

St. Martin, St. Peter.

The President having declared the result of the division Senator John Stephen Rothwell withdrew the

proposition.

Pour Contres

If all the ones against it voted 'pour' no wonder the States like the 'Pour'and 'Contre' system. By the time they come to vote there must be widespread confusion as to which side is which!

Peter Colback

Reading some of the posts, especially the one asking for a memorial on Jersey saying "... wrongly accused"

I have setup a Facebook page called

Alphonse Le Gastelois Memorial Group

so please do join this and comment there and we'll as a community put right some of the wrong done to him.

Have your say as to what is a fitting memorial.