18th February 1861

Jersey’s courts are criticised for leaving a man in limbo

Almost two years after being accused of raping a nine-year-old girl, Philip Renouf finally faced a jury. He was perhaps quite relieved to have made it to court, where he’d have a chance to clear his name.

The accuser, a girl called Ann King, had not told anyone about the supposed rape until, she said, Renouf had attacked her three times. Yet, a doctor could find no evidence that she’d ever had sexual contact with anyone and there was no-one to substantiate her claim.

A lengthy speech

The accused’s advocate addressed the jury for three hours without taking a break, only to be rebutted by the attorney-general who said that the girl’s evidence ought to be taken at face value, so long as it was clear she was not under any other party’s influence.

It was well into the evening before the bailiff could summarise the evidence given, and eight o’clock before the jury returned with a verdict of “rather more innocent than guilty”, upon the delivery of which Renouf was free to leave.

London takes note

However, the intervening months must have taken their toll on him, and the time it had taken the case to come to court had been the subject of criticism from the Home Office in London. The Lieutenant-Governor had received a letter from the Home Secretary at the end of December the previous year, voicing concern that the case had not yet been heard and reiterating that Ann King’s father had a very good reason to complain about the apparent lack of urgency.

The jurats weren’t impressed, pointing out that criminal cases barely move at any greater speed on the mainland, and the attorney general made it clear that there simply wasn’t capacity in Jersey’s court system to move things along any faster.


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