Edward John Louis Paisnel (1925 – 1994), dubbed the Beast of Jersey, was a notorious sex offender who terrorised the Channel Island of Jersey between 1960 and 1971. He entered homes at night dressed in a rubber mask and nail-studded wristlets, attacking women and children. Reports that he would visit Haut de la Garenne children's home are disputed. His wife, Joan Paisnel, was the founder of another community home in Jersey and it was there, at her request, that he once played Santa Claus.
Suspicion for the attacks initially fell on an eccentric agricultural worker and fisherman, Alphonse Le Gastelois, who was arrested but released through lack of evidence. Public suspicion remained so strong, however, that Le Gastelois' cottage was burnt down in an act of arson. Le Gastelois, fearing for his life, fled to Les Écréhous where he spent 14 years in self-imposed exile on La Marmotière as the second self-styled king of the Écréhous despite being cleared of suspicion when the attacks of the Beast of Jersey continued unabated.
Capture and conviction
On 17 July 1971 Edward Paisnel was stopped by the police after running a red traffic light and then attempting to evade police pursuit. In the car, which he had stolen earlier that evening, were discovered several pointed sticks and elements of his "Beast" costume. In December 1971 he was convicted of 13 counts of assault, rape and sodomy and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
In 1972 his wife Joan Paisnel wrote the bookThe Beast of Jersey (published by NEL Paperbacks, ISBN 0-450017-17-6).
After the trial, freelance journalistAlan Shadrake became Joan Paisnel's literary agent, and ghost-wrote a first person article with John Lisners which was published in the Sunday Mirror under the title "The Beauty & the Beast" with a photograph of Mrs. Paisnel, in a ballet dance pose in white, and a police photo of her husband wearing the horrific mask which he wore when he kidnapped and assaulted his victims.Please note that as stated at trial, that Paisnel never wore the mask during his attacks Ward Rutherford: The Untimely Silence, Hamish Hamilton, London 1973
Edward Paisnel returned to Jersey briefly following his release from prison but moved away due to the strength of local feeling against him. He died in the Isle of Wight in 1994.