14th October 1914
The King of the Ecréhous is born
Alphonse Le Gastelois became known as the King of the Ecréhous when he retreated from Jersey in 1961, sought refuge on the reef and stayed there for 14 years.
Le Gastelois’ exile was self-imposed, but came about after he was wrongly accused of a string of sexual assaults, over 11 years, which had in fact been carried out by Edward Paisnel, the Beast of Jersey. He was arrested as one of almost three dozen suspects in the hunt for the Beast and released after questioning due to lack of evidence. Unfortunately for Le Gastelois, the difference between innocence and ‘lack of evidence’ is quite pronounced and when the Beast’s attacks continued suspicion only got stronger. Police searched his house several times before it was burned down.
A simple life
He first visited the Ecréhous when employed to do some odd jobs on a hut there, and was struck by the comparative paradise he found. Disinclined to return to his old life, he decided to stay, and lived in a hut on La Marmotiere where he ate shellfish, seagull eggs and seaweed, and drank rainwater.
He chose to stay even after Paisnel had been caught, tried and convicted, and earned himself the nickname King of the Ecréhous. Eventually he applied to the queen to establish his island as an independent state, but the request was denied.
What ultimately brought him back to Jersey was again an accusation of having been involved in a crime. This time, the crime was arson, and the burning down of a hut belonging to Lady Trent, whose father had founded the chemist chain Boot’s. Although he was found not guilty and was thus free to leave, he stayed in Jersey until he died in 2012.
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