Murders in Guernsey
Violent crime is relatively rare in Guernsey and the Channel Islands in general – particularly when compared to the mainland. Murder, in particular, is almost unheard of, although there have been some cases over the years. Perhaps the most notable of these, John Tapner’s murder of Elizabeth Saujon, led to the last ever hanging for murder on the island.
Guernsey murders and murderers
The following murder cases with a link to Guernsey were notable. Click the headers to read the fuller story of each incident.
1304: Thomas le Rouvet
Thomas le Rouvet killed a monk on Lihou and was stabbed in a fight with the Bailiff’s men who had come to arrest him. Years later, this led to the execution of a bailiff, who is said to have confessed at the place now known as Bailiff’s Cross.
1830: Marie Joseph Francois Beasse
Beasse was hanged after murdering the five month old baby he’d had with his servant.
1854: John Tapner
John Tapner’s public execution went badly wrong after he was sentenced to death for killing Elizabeth Saujon. He became the last man hanged on for murder on Guernsey.
1894: Charles Greaves
Greaves tried – and failed – to kill his wife but was accidentally killed by David Kail, who had tried to stop him. Kail stood trial for Greaves’ murder.
1911: John Hutchinson
Hutchinson poisoned the coffee at his parents’ dinner party, killing 14, and fled to Guernsey where he committed suicide when apprehended by the police.
1935: Gertrude de la Mere
Gertrude Elizabeth de la Mere murdered her employer and wrote a note, apparently from her victim, saying she was not to blame. Gertrude became the first woman to stand trial for murder on Guernsey.
1937: Peter Robin
Peter Robin killed his 12-year-old daughter, Edith, in their back garden. He claimed that he believed he was chopping wood at the time.
1947: James Ozanne
Ozanne was sentenced to death in a trial lasting just three hours for shooring his housekeeper in the head. His sentence was commuted to a life sentence on appeal.
1949: George Jackson
George William Jackson killed his lover in an apparent suicide pact but was unable to kill himself because he couldn’t reach his rifle’s trigger. He didn’t deny killing his lover, Maglona.
1973: John Tilley
Tilley was convicted of murdering chambermaid Margaret Weaver, but his conviction was later reduced to one for manslaughter, and his life sentence reduced to 12 years.
1979: the Richards brothers
The brothers pleaded not guilty but were convicted of murdering Thames Water engineer John George in woodland near Dunsfold. They fled to Guernsey and were later arrested on a boat off France.
Death penalty for murder on Guernsey
Although Guernsey didn’t hang anyone after John Tapner in 1854, it retained the death penalty as the standard punishment for murder until 29 April 1964. In practice, however, all sentences were routinely commuted to imprisonment.
In April 1964, the States of Guernsey abolished the death penalty for murder as part of The Homicide (Guernsey) Law, which came into force in 1965.