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The Horrifying True Story Of Edward Paisnel, The Beast Of Jersey

Between 1957 and 1971, Edward Paisnel was responsible for more than a dozen rapes and sexual assaults in the Channel Islands. His sickening crimes cemented his place in the true-crime history books as the "Beast of Jersey."

Beast of Jersey Mask
Edward Paisnel (right) a police officer wearing the infamous "Beast of Jersey" mask

Those who lived on the remote Channel Island of Jersey spent over a decade fearing finding a masked intruder inside their home. During this time there were no alarm systems, limited policemen, and home telephones could simply be disabled by cutting a wire. In this period over a dozen women and children would come face to face with a man who would later become known as the "Beast of Jersey."

Wearing a mask that looked like melted skin, this emotionless, terrifying figure, raped, stalked, and sodomized more than 13 people between 1957 and 1971. One of the most disturbing parts of this case was that hidden beneath the mask was what appeared to be an everyday family man.

The monster behind the mask was 46-year-old Edward Paisnel, who lived with his wife Joan and her children and had no previous history of violence. Paisnel had even visited a foster home for orphans dressed as Santa Claus at Christmas. After 14 years of horrific assaults and taunting the police, he was finally captured by mere chance.

Edward Paisnel, The "Beast Of Jersey"

Although the exact location and date of his birth are still unclear, we know that Edward Paisnel was born in 1925 and came from a relatively wealthy family. Paisnel was in his early teens when the United Kingdom declared war on Germany in 1939 and at one point was sent to prison briefly for stealing food to give to starving families.

It wasn't until 1957 that Edward Paisnel's real crimes began, a long time before he garnered his infamous moniker or donned the Beast of Jersey mask. At 32 years old, Paisnel wrapped a scarf over his face and approached a woman who was waiting for a bus in the Monte a L'abbe district and tied a rope around her neck, dragged her into a nearby field, and raped her, before fleeing the scene.

Attacking his victims at bus stops and taking them to isolated fields became his modus operandi. In March, he attacked a 20-year-old woman in just the same scenario, he repeated this in July, and then again in October 1959. When his victims described him to authorities, they all mentioned him having a "musty" odor about him. Within a year, this unidentified, sexual predator was making his way into people's homes.

Edward Paisnel mugshot
A police mugshot of Edward Paisnel "The Beast of Jersey"

On Valentine's Day 1960, an unsuspecting 12-year-old boy awoke to find Paisnel in his bedroom. He forced the boy outside using a rope and took him to a nearby field to sodomize him.

In March of the same year, Paisnel was parked up at a bus stop when a woman approached him and asked if he would give her a ride, he drove her to a field and raped her.

His next attack was at the home of a 43-year-old woman who lived in an isolated cottage, she was awoken by a loud noise at approximately 1:30 am, and made an attempt to call the police, but Paisnel had already cut her telephone line. He attempted to restrain the woman who somehow managed to escape and find help. When she returned she found her 14-year-old daughter had been raped by the intruder.

The Beast of Jersey Starts Targeting Children

At this point, Edward Paisnel started only targeting children, in April he broke into the bedroom of a 14-year-old girl, she awoke and saw him and screamed so loud that it caused him to flee.

In July, Paisnel broke into another child's bedroom, this time it was that of an 8-year-old boy who he took from his home and raped in a field before walking the victim back home himself.

Many accused the police of acting slowly, but eventually, they started questioning all residents who had previous criminal records. There were 13 people questioned that refused to provide fingerprints, Paisnel being one of them, this narrowed down the suspect list for the authorities.

Police initially believed that a local fisherman by the name of Alphonse Le Gastelois was the perpetrator behind these barbaric crimes, although apart from him being known as eccentric they had very little reason to believe he was the culprit.

All the attention was on Le Gastelois and his face was quickly plastered across all the local newspapers, it didn't take long before vigilantes burned down his house. Unsurprisingly, Le Gastelois left Jersey for good.

The Beast Of Jersey quickly began his heinous acts again, with three more children being raped and sodomized by the mask-wearing psychopath by April 1961.

Alphonse Le Gastelois Jersey
A photo of the wrongly accused Alphonse Le Gastelois that featured in the Jersey Evening Post

When all this was going on, Edward Paisnel was working as a volunteer in community homes, caring for children. He and his wife even took some of the children home, with Paisnel accused of abusing both the staff and orphans he was expected to help.

Scotland Yard eventually stepped in to offer assistance to the local police with a profile of their suspect. They estimated that the rapist was between 40 and 45 years old, five feet and six inches tall, wearing either a scarf or mask. He carried a flashlight and broke into homes through bedroom windows. When Scotland Yard got involved, the Beast of Jersey quickly disappeared, however, he returned again in 1963.

Edward Paisnel Finally Captured

There was a gap of two years before the Beast of Jersey once again reared his ugly head. Between April and November 1963, he raped and sodomized four boys and girls that he had snatched from their bedrooms. Just like last time, he vanished again for another two years, before a letter arrived at the Jersey police station in 1966, taunting local police.

The letter heavily criticised the police for being incompetent, while claiming that the author was responsible for the "perfect crime." In the letter, it went on to say that he wasn't satisfied enough and that two more people would soon become his victims. In August of the same year, a 15-year-old girl was taken from her home, raped, and left covered in scratches.

The next reported incident happened in August of 1970, this time it was exactly the same as the previous attack but this time the victim was a 14-year-old boy who was snatched from his home, the boy told police that his attacker wore a mask.

Thankfully, this was the last time that the Beast of Jersey mask would ever be worn again in a criminal act. On July 10, 1971, in St. Helier, police pulled over 46-year-old Edward Paisnel for running a red light while driving a stolen car. Paisnel attempted to flee from police and a car chase ensued and Paisnel drove straight through a hedge into a field.

Beast of Jersey Mask
A policeman is seen here wearing the mask they found in the possession of Edward Paisnel

Police discovered cords, tape, a black wig, and a mask fitting the description of that used in the attacks inside the car. Paisnel himself was wearing a coat with nails fitted on the shoulders and cuffs, he was also in possession of a flashlight. He claimed to the police officers that he was on his way to an orgy, the police didn't buy this and he was taken into custody.

When authorities searched his home they uncovered a hidden room that was full of photographs of local properties, a sword, and an altar that was covered with books on black magic and the occult.

The trial of Edward Paisnel concluded in December 1971, taking the jury only 38 minutes of deliberation before finding him guilty.

The Beast Of Jersey Arrest
The Beast of Jersey seen here covered with a coat exiting a police vehicle

He was convicted of 13 counts of rape, sexual assault, and sodomy against six of his victims, he was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Shockingly, Paisnel was released from prison 10 years early in 1991 on the grounds of good behaviour. Upon his release, he attempted to return to Jersey, but he wasn't greeted with a warm welcome by the locals as you can imagine, so he moved instead to the Isle of Wight, where he died there of a heart attack in 1994, just three years after being released from prison.

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