Alphonse family call for apology

THE family of Alphonse Le Gastelois - the Jerseyman who fled to a remote offshore reef after being wrongly accused of appalling sex crimes against children - have called on the States to apologise for the terrible treatment he suffered.

The late Alphonse Le Gastelois pictured at the Ecréhous
The late Alphonse Le Gastelois pictured at the Ecréhous

THE family of Alphonse Le Gastelois - the Jerseyman who fled to a remote offshore reef after being wrongly accused of appalling sex crimes against children - have called on the States to apologise for the terrible treatment he suffered.

Mr Le Gastelois, who died earlier this month aged 97, spent 15 years living alone on the Ecréhous after his name was mysteriously leaked as the chief suspect in the Beast of Jersey attacks in the early 1960s.

Despite being innocent, a community desperate for the attacker to be caught focused their anger, fear and revulsion on him.

Now the few surviving members of his family are leading calls for an apology and want a memorial to be placed on the reef which lies around six miles off the north-east coast.

Will and Val du Heaume, his next of kin and the couple who looked after him as his health failed, say that the States must acknowledge the wrong Mr Le Gastelois suffered.

Comments for: "Alphonse family call for apology"

Nurse

Surely it was up to Alphonse to "demand an apology" if he saw fit.

Presumably, as a man of peace, he did not make any such demand, which rather begs the question as to the moral or other authority, such as that may be, under which the latest overture purports to be made on his behalf.

BORIS

If a memorial was placed on a pub wall in memory of a frenchman who only had a meal there, and after the war turned his back on britain, then why cant a memorial in some form be placed on the the reef for Alphonse ?

Tony B

De Gaulle then made it his life's mission to cause as many problems as possible for the UK.

Jon

He adopted the "empty chair" policy by not turning up when the matter of Britain's "assession" to the EU was under discussion.

His petulant nonsense went on for ten years and nearly drove Edward Heath (then foreign minister I believe) to despair. The French showed no gratitude to the British, without whom France would have part of Germany.

Heath got his way in the end when he eventually became PM but not until De G had retired. That was a pity in a way, because the so-called EU has been a singularly destructive force so far as England is concerned.

mallouin

You may well find that a lot in EU would agree with the Le General.

Ben

Indeed, which is why the EU is such a destructive force for the UK.

C Le Verdic

It might be more appropriate to site a stone or plaque at the cottage that Alphonse was originally living in at the time of the accusations and eventually lost as his home.

How do we know that a memorial at the Ecréhous might not impinge on the visual sesitivities of the Resident's Association?

Tony B

It seems to be the fashion to 'apologise ' and tip toe around so as not to upset people for things that happned hundreds of years ago. Why cannot an apology be given to a man who was traduced, persecuted and finally driven from his home, in living memory?

Tardy Response

It seems a bit late for that now, unless you know any means of communicating.

Tony B

Well slavery ended in 1833, the UK still seems to be expected to apologise, and pay for it.

Ken

Odd indeed, seeing as the UK was intrumental in abolishing it.

Perhaps someone will be seeking damages for the polar ice caps!

Bail

The words "mysteriously leaked" are, at best, loaded and at worst, mischievous. The words "journalistic license" spring to mind.

It is known that neighbours saw the arrest take place.

What evidence is there that the police or anyone else in authority "mysteriously leaked" the name of the detained person?

What evidence is there to support any claim that any release of information was effected with mal intent?

Victor Meldrew

Alphonse was a quiet man who wouldn't have liked all this regurgitating of the past.Let him have a chance to rest in peace.It's hardly a week since his funeral and in a sense he's now back in an unwanted spotlight after years of self chosen anonymity.We should respect that and remember him with a simple memorial in a quiet spot on the Ecrehous, away from the hordes of visitors that made him retreat to his hut.

Melissa Carter

Will and Val du Heaume are not the only surviving members of Mr Le Gastelois's family.

Other family members have kept a dignified silence over the media furore following his death.

Surely it is time to finally put this whole sorry saga to rest and let these family members get on with their lives in peace without having this black cloud hanging over them.

Ecrehous Lover

Yes better check with the residents association first. I'm sure they will have something to say about it, they usually do.

If they had been around when Alphonse arrived they would have probably sent him on his way...

Helen Highwater

I only met Alphonse once on a visit to the Ecrehous. I vividly recall seeing him walk down the beach to a rockpool to fetch a lobster for one of his friends. He told us that the following day, another lobster would have taken up residency in the same hole.

I found this fascinating, and still do!

I grew up in Grouville with my Mum living in fear of who we later knew was Paisnel and several of our neighbours had children who were violated by him. As I was quite young at the time, it wasn't generally spoken about in front of us. My Mother slept with a carving knife and a bag of pepper beside her bed - Lord knows how she would have fared if she'd needed to use them!

Unless I'm mistaken, the States gave him £20,000 by way of an apology so I'm not sure what else they can do, especially as it's not now that he needs any further recognition.

If the family would like a plaque dedicated to Alphonse, why not have a collection or perhaps organise a sponsored trip to the Ecrehous and raise money that way?

East of the Island

The odd thing is- some people question whether it was Paisnel at all- the trial had a lot of irregularities and the police were desperate by 1971 to convict someone.

If you look at the case today, you see that the conviction wasn't really made on the proper basis of proof beyond reasonable doubt, but simply relied upon a mishmash of cicumstantial evidence and probable witness prompting (at least one leading question was identified), the witnesses having been interviewed beforehand by the prosecuting counsel.

Then there is the further consideration that Paisnel, who denied the offences up until his death apparently, was only convicted of six out of more than twenty apparent attacks.

Raindog

You seem to have forgotten that Paisnel was caught,after being chased by the police for jumping a red light, wearing a raincoat with nails in the waistband and wrists, a mask and had other items in the boot of his car. He had had a secret room at his home with items relating to devil worship and the attacks ceased after his arrest. Not too much guilt about his conviction I think.

Paul

There were no items in the boot of the car, which was a stolen vehicle, by the way. The clothes which the defendant was wearing, which did not include a raincoat, together with the extraordinary events leading to his arrest, were explained, after a fashion.

No witnesses ever reported seeing those clothes having been worn during any of the alleged attacks.

The so-called secret room may have been a secret room or it could, as was argued by his defence, simply have been a convenient way of arranging cupboard space.

The altar to which you refer was not within the hidden space.

Unfortunately, the press sensationalised all of these elements. Your post shows that the presentation of this information had the required result on your own mind. The way in which the case continues to be presented on the internet perpetuates the misunderstanding and the misinformation.

All of this is what is called circumstantail evidence at best. It is not an offence to possess funny clothes, to have a hidden room or to engage in undesirable religious practices.

Your post shows very well indeed why any conviction which relied so heavily on such matters rather than more meaningful evidence must remain of doubtful quality.

There are at least three books on the case. If you want to express an informed view, instead of reciting what you have been fed, then it might be as well for you to seek out and to read those texts.

I hope that this helps.

Maddy

He wasn't wearing a mask when the police stopped him.

Tony B

Whatever the situation, his son couldn't live with it. He was a school friend of mine. So be careful before you start pontificating.

Puzzled

Goodness me. How very pompous to accuse someone of pontificating! Surely that itself is pontification.

Trigger's Broom

What's the pope got to do with it?

Parktown Yawn

Quite so, Parktown.

If you read Joan Paisnel's book, you will see that she carefully avoids describing the trial at all. She also uses careful wording when she describes attacks for which her husband was convicted. Her approach was one of "Ted must have done it, because the court said so"- that is an approach which is entirely consistent with a speculative and no doubt lucrative publishing exercise which depends upon co-operation from the police and other figures behind the judicial process.

Those figures are hardly likely to lend their support if they know that their endeavours are going to be dealt with in an adverse way.

Yes, most people do base their ignorance upon that single book, although I did not deduce anyone calling the author of that book a "liar". It would no doubt help if they were to look to the court judgment and to the other books which were published. A critical eye is what is needed rather than a blind adherence to a version of events that was carefully stage managed and sensationalised and which has been further distorted over the past four decades!

Parktown Prawn

Paul

In fairness, the book that we have probably all read was supposedly written by his WIFE, Joan Paisnel.

Are you telling us she is a liar?

Jules

Which part of Joan Paisnel's book (ghost written by Fleet Street journalists-not by his WIFE) do you think that Paul is disagreeing with?

Joey

I read that book when I was in my teens. First thing I thought was, how do they really know it was him?

Del Trotter

Parktown Prawn:

"are you telliing us she is a liar"?

No. Are you?

Parktown Prawn

Wow....I didn't realise there were so many experts out there!!

I take it all back.....I will believe anything YOU "experts" say over a book supposedly written by the wife of the "convicted" perpetrator in future.

P.S Jules

Note I used the word "supposedly" (in this comment and the previous one) which would infer to a normal person that the statement may not be 100% accurate ;-)

John, Paul, George and Gringo

Well, there you are. Try reading more than one book on any given subject and you too might be more of an "expert" on the matter in hand!

Best wishes and see you at the library!

:)

All of the experts

You haven't answered Jules' question, Parktown Prawn. Do you intend to do so, or do you simply rely upon personal comment to try and make your point?

Parktown Prawn

Fair enough....I did read the book a while ago now and I no longer have a copy to refer to.

I never admitted to being an expert, however, I did put a lot of trust in Mrs Paisnel's version of events as being more accurate than it probably was.

My recollections were that Mrs Paisnel mentioned the secret room where Ed practised his white magic....and not that it "simply have been a convenient way of arranging cupboard space" as Paul implies his defence maintained.

I also recall reading about the car chase and items found in the boot which incriminated him.

This, to me, implies he was the perpetrator.....plus as far as I am aware all the attacks ceased after his conviction.

I apologise if I upset anyone with my hazy recollections from the book.

If anyone feels he may have been wrongly convicted then why has nobody spoken up to clear his name....or have they?

Dave Curtowlevitch

Your recollection can't be that good because the gear wasn't in the boot- he had most of it on!

It wasn't enough to incriminate him, though, given that there was nothing to directly connect any of it to any attack, save perhaps one or two items which could have had an innocent usage.

The police made a huge play of the clothes, however, placing them on a dummy and inviting the press to take photographs and to present the information in the best of journalistic traditions. In that sense, you have to look at the "style over substance" argument and conclude that the absence of direct evidence led to what might be generously referred to as a sensationalist approach.

One reporter wrote that a number of english hacks had gathered in a Jersey pub mid-way through the trial and the consensus among these seasoned reporters of criminal cases was that the case was so flimsy at that juncture that no Director of Public Prosecutions in England would have taken it to trial.

A strange case indeed. Justice may or may not have been served. What is clear, however, is that an awful lot went on that we know nothing about. What really happened will probably never be known.

Parktown Prawn

Thanks Dave

Can you recommend any other books to read on the subject?

My interest has been aroused again.....

yamlulz

Try this

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Beast-Jersey-Final-Chapter/dp/B000G9RMTC/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1340811775&sr=8-9

Parktown Prawn

Thanks yamlulz

Dave Curtowlevitch

Sure thing, PP.

Try:

1. The Jersey Monster (1972) (Ronald Maxwell, who later directed the film "Joan of Arc"- a paradox as Paisnel believed that she was an ancestor of his);

2. The Untimely Silence (1973) (republished as "The FInal Chapter) Ward Rutherford, a one-time Channel TV reporter.

You could also try the Jersey Judgment in AG-v-Paisnel (1972) but the case has mysteriously disappeared from the index of cases, even though it is a long-standing authority on similar fact evidence and despite the fcat that the published judical reports are supposed to stand in way similar to Hansard.

Another interesting read is a few paragraphs in Crill's posthumously published book "A Little brief Authority" but consider that the author makes a couple of factual errors. Amazingly, he reveals his belief that his own property was the subject of an aborted attack, which raises the question as to whether he, as Attorney General who prosecuted the case, should have excused himself on the basis of a conflict of interest!

June

P/Prawn said:

"Paul

In fairness, the book that we have probably all read was supposedly written by his WIFE, Joan Paisnel.

Are you telling us she is a liar?"

No, I don't think that he did say that. What part of the post did you deduce that from? What part of the book do you feel that Paul disagrees with? Since you clearly know better than all of us, perhaps you could kindly state the page numbers of the parts of the book where you think Paul's disagreement lies. I have a copy of the book here and I await your reply with great interest.

the thin wallet

only the chosen few would ever have sight of a memorial on the ecrehous , to a wronged man ( they stole his house too, so i hear ).

let a memorial be placed on headland(on jersey) the ecrehous in the background , and many can see it .

truthseeker

These folks are right to ask for a public apology..the mans life was ruined by Bad policing and the baying for a perpetrator...someone ,anyone.it seems would do...one can not imagine the distress and indignity suffered by Alphonse ...who was INNOCENT...so let's not have any of this "Moving swiftly on" garbage....Jerseuy is know world wide for it's 'sweeping under the carpet' activities.so much so the carpet is getting hard to walk on....it would be decent,proper and a large gesture and a warning for the future if the Island officially apologised and for once got it right..for no other reason ...than just setting things right.

Jane

yes quite, very, er......well put. Now, moving swiftly on...........

Truth

I would find it fitting to have a stone in his memory poor man suffered,

As for the beast hell it was him all right i know, and know how he ruined so many life's on this island dont be fooled again, some short sighted people on here lead such a sheltered life get a grip our children were victims show some respect for gods sake.

Hilly

If a "sheltered life" means reading into a subject, looking at the evidence and questioning what went on then I am quite happy to be one of the "sheltered" ones, thank you!

You will find other "sheltered" people amidst journalists, private investigators, lawyers and in organisations like Amnesty and in fact anywhere where people don't act like robots so we "sheltered" ones at least have company!

:)

Sarah

I would tend to agree with you, "Truth" but for the fact that Alphonse himself said that he did not think that the person who was convicted was the real perpetrator. The relevant interview may be found in the evening post on, as I recall, the first week of December, 1971. I understand as well that he repeated his sentiments to other jounalists who visited him in the years 1971 to 1975.

I hardly think that Alphonse could be accused of having led a sheltered life. You also have to ask why he, of all people, questioned the state of affairs. He also stated in the interview that he had given a name to the police but they were not interested, having already succeeded in closing their file.

Perhaps the most significant thing of all is the fact that the interview and subsequent repititions have been conveniently forgotten.

Why would that be do you think?

Johnny

For what it's worth, I think that Alphonse would make a brilliant subject for a painting. There are many very benevolent things about his features and his contenance.

It would be fitting for the painting to hang in the Royal Court. It would balance the preponderence of pompous individuals portrayed on the walls of the court and would serve to remind us all of the follies of power and how individual strength of character can be far more dignified that any self-serving officious gravitas.

I hope that the family of Alphonse will forgive this intervention.

The Thinker

It seems terribly sad that so much is written about a man's life 'that he didn't do', perhaps it would be nice if someone who actually knew him in life wrote a few kind words.

Like many of the contributors here and on previous forums I was only a very young lad when this was all going on. All the knowledge I have about the events is second hand and probably unreliable information. Like others on here it was my belief that when PAISNEL was stopped by uniformed Officers in a car on the Esplanade, there was a certain amount of clothing found on him or in the vehicle. Certainly that alone would not secure a conviction however it was good circumstantial evidence, given that the victims had made statements with regard to what the offender had been wearing at the time.

I have to say that without taking any undue interest in the case, I assumed that the trial and subsequent conviction was relatively straightforward. On reading some of the submissions made to date it appears I was wrong in making such presumptions. However if PAISNEL was wrongly convicted, then the door is left wide open for all forms of speculation :-

1) Why did the attacks cease after PAISNEL was arrested.

2) Are there thoughts that PAISNEL was assisted in the attacks.

3)Are there suspicions that PAISNEL was assisted in covering the crimes.

all of which leads me to suspect that this has all become Jersey's version of a conspiracy theory. I think that the right man went to prison and the fact that he did not confess to all the crimes is a total red herring (many offenders don't make full and frank confessions - they do everything in their power to twist and manipulate things to their advantage).

To me all these years later, the one thing I really don't understand is Alphonse belief that someone else was involved. As an innocent person I wonder how he would know this to be the case and indeed why he did not speak out with what he did know.

In summary, it was all a long time ago and the people who really knew the truth have passed away. I believe we should move on and remember Alphonse as a quiet and dignified man. May he rest in peace.

Orson Cart

I was not going to comment on the above until I read THE THINKER'S contribution. I was on duty at PHQ when Paisnel was brought in by the arresting officers. If my memory serves me correctly, Paisnel was wearing a raincoat with nails sticking through the shoulders and collar of said coat, and I recall a mask and a wig being subsequently found in the car. A few weeks later I was involved in transfering him from prison for a court appearance, and all people involved in the had a curse put on us by Paisnel, has BLUE KNIGHT any observations to make?

Ono sideburns

The gentleman was wearing a blue sports jacket with nails in the shoulders and in the left lapel. A theatrical mask and a black wig were found within the lining of the coat, together with certain other items, including lengths of cord allegedly used to start a cement mixer or a lawnmower. No witnesses reported an attacker wearing those clothes.

A raincoat was found later in a hidden part of Mr Paisnel's house. That, too had nails fitted to the lapels. Witnesses mentioned a raincoat, but admitted at trial that the type of raincoat which they recalled was of a type which is very common. No doubt grasping at straws, the prosecution used aspects like a "musty smell" and the utterence of then common irish vernacular to corroborate what evidence it had.

There was evidence that the mask had been worn earlier that evening, which tends to support Mr Paisnel's assertion that he had been to a secret gathering and tends, equally, to disprove prosecution speculation that he was on his way to another attack.

He was wearing slippers and his false teeth were at home. He was in a disorientated state, having taken painkillers, perhaps to excess and on account of being traumatised by the fact that his dog had been put to sleep that day.

It is probable that he was suffering from a mental illness, as is written within the books. The court, however, was having none of it. In a rather peculiar judicial statement which would probably be frowned upon today, Bailiff Robert Le Masurier said, as the court turned down a request for a special type of brain scan, "we are not concerned with culpability, only the community".

Blue Knight has already kindly commented on the case. He was unable to assist, due to the fact that his time with the Jersey force began some time after the above events.

C Le Verdic

'his false teeth were at home'

Wouldn't that be seen as 'going equipped'?

Otto

That depends whether you are looking at the defendant or whether you are having wider regard to the ineffectivness of the criminal justice system! :)