Joan Paisnel – The Beast Of Jersey: By His Wife (NEL, Sept. 1973)
Three chapters in, and … how the Jersey Tourist board must’ve loved this one. The island is depicted as a hot-bed of black and white magic, wife-swapping, interbreeding, organised crime and God knows what else, and one man who certainly had a dabble in most of these dubious past-times was Ted Paisnel. A kindly natured fellow to his family (although he and his second wife lived in different parts of his huge premises), Paisnel spent eleven years terrorising the island to the point where women and children feared to wander alone. Dressed in a grotesque outfit – mask, wig, nailed wristbands and a weirdly decorated coat, this brutal man was eventually convicted of thirteen offences against children in 1971.
The story begins with his chance capture after an exciting nocturnal car chase and the search of his rooms which revealed a concealed altar. We’ve also had a snoop at his paperback collection which includes occult works by Eric Maple, Wheatley’s “The Devil Rides Out” and “To The Devil – A Daughter” and H. T. F. Rhodes’ heart-warming “The Satanic Mass”. Ted also claims to have had a horror story published in Argosy, though his wife reckons he made that up. We’ve also had a couple of references to Steve McQueen in Bullit and James Bond. Mrs. Paisnel sounds quite cheerful so far, all things considered, but I guess that will change over the next hundred pages.
It’s true that he was convicted of assault, but I’m not sure about the ‘Black Magic’ angle. For example, when he’s captured, he refuses to implicate members of his coven (he was just on his way to an orgy, apparently). Maybe he was being protective, maybe he was working alone and the occult stuff was just his own interest. He seems to have been a confabulator from what I’ve read so far.
Page 59, and we’ve just been introduced to Painel’s estranged daughter, Teri, the proto-goth from his first marriage.
I was astonished by her appearance. She has waist-length dark red hair and she wore an ankle-length black cape, with knee-high black boots with metal crosses hanging from them and a large studded cross on her chest. She told reporters that she was fascinated by witchcraft and that she had attended a coven. She insisted that she had a genuine interest in it and was not simply fascinated by the idea of sex that seemed to accompany some of the ceremonies. “I think there is nothing more disgusting than copulating on a gravestone,” she had been reported in newspapers as saying.
Her father had left in 1953 when she was three months old, and she cultivated her interest in the occult entirely independent of him by the looks of things. I’m still not sure how big a part ‘Black Magic’ played in all this – the guy was a child abuser and rapist, and the rest of it may just be something the newspapers built up to feed what they perceived to be the public’s insatiable appetite for sordid witchy antics at the time.
Beast of Jersey thread on Vault of Evil forum