11th April 1972

Jersey votes to retain the death penalty

Jersey hadn’t hanged anyone since 1959 when it executed Francis Joseph Huchet for the murder of his uncle. Other convicted criminals had been sentenced to death in the interim, but the sanction had always been repealed in favour of a lengthy or life-long prison term. Nonetheless, the States was reluctant to remove the ultimate penalty from its statute books.

The States votes to retain the death penalty

In April 1959, Senator Clarence Farley moved that it be abolished, but the vote was against him, with 18 for its removal and 22 voting to retain. This gave retention of the death penalty an increased majority over the last time the States had voted on the matter, when the difference, in 1967, had been just three.

It made Jersey and the Isle of Man unusual among the British Isles as the only two places to retain the death penalty. Guernsey had repealed the death penalty for murder in 2003, having not killed anyone judicially since 1854 when John Tapner was sent to the gallows. His hanging had been carried out by an inexperienced executioner, who hadn’t calculated the convict’s weight or necessary length of rope, leaving the man to be slowly strangled while the executioner hung on to his legs to add weight. It may have been the gruesome nature of this killing that explains why Guernsey had turned its back on the penalty so much sooner than Jersey.

Jersey’s last public hanging

Jersey carried out hangings in public until 1875 when it executed Joseph Philip Le Brun, making him the last person hanged in public in the British Isles.

The last time a Jersey court passed sentence of death was 1984. All provision for passing similar sentences was removed from the island’s statute books with the passing of the Human Rights (Amendment) (Jersey) Order 2006, which came into effect on 10 December 2006.


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