9th October 1959
Jersey’s last execution takes place
Frances Joseph Huchet has the unfortunate distinction of being the last criminal to be executed in the Channel Islands. He was put to death in Jersey on 9 October 1959, less than a month after his conviction for the murder of John Perree. Perree had been drinking with Huchet shortly before his body was recovered from a shallow grave. He’d been shot in the face.
Huchet’s trial had lasted just three days – from 7 to 10 September – during which time it heard testimony from 44 witnesses. It was notable for being the first murder trial in Jersey to have included women in the jury.
Those jurors deliberated for slightly less than an hour and a half before declaring Huchet guilty and, as death was the only penalty that the law could accommodate for such a crime, he was sentenced to be hanged. He was the first person hanged in the island in more than 50 years, and the last ever to suffer such a fate. All subsequent death sentences were commuted to life in prison and, in 1986, Jersey abolished the death penalty.
The 32-year-old’s execution took place at St Helier’s Newgate Street Prison at 7.30 in the morning, and an inquest was held an hour later, the result of which was a verdict that he had died instantly. This may have disappointed the crowd that had gathered outside the prison hoping to see the condemned man swing, for they had been kept away from the gallows.
On 12 September 2015, the Jersey Evening Post interviewed David Burt, who had been a guard at the prison at the time of Huchet’s execution. “We were playing cards with him until about 3am,” Burt told the paper. “He was quite calm – if it was me, I think I’d have been bottling it. I think we asked him if he wanted to play any more, but he’d had enough, and he soon went off to sleep. I think it was about six o’clock that I gave him a shout and I gave him a cup of coffee. We took him down the stairs and the next minute the prison chaplain came in, so we had to leave. We waited about half an hour and then six of us were called back to go and get him as he was already in the coffin.”
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