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JERSEY (Channel Islands)
Judicial CP - March 1955

Corpun file 7220

Jersey Evening Post, St Helier, 12 March 1955

To-Day's Royal Court
Before Sir Alexander Coutanche (Bailiff) and Jurats P.C. Cabot and C.J.M. Riley, M.C.

Birch for Car "Borrower"

16-year-old Double Probationer Sentenced

Dennis Albert Bouchere (16) appeared on remand from the Lower Court on a charge of car borrowing and the theft of a duffle coat while on probation.

Advocate W. Stone appeared for Bouchere and said that he pleaded guilty.

The Attorney-General said that Bouchere was 16 years and ten months of age. He had appeared three times recently before the Lower Court on charges of what was euphemistically known as car "borrowing". Three months ago he was charged before the Police Court with car "borrowing" and driving without a licence and was placed on probation and then on 4th January -- three weeks later -- he was charged, in complicity, under Article 9 of the Réglement on the Police des Chemins. He had not driven on this occasion but was a party to the "borrowing". He was again bound over on probation. Then on 14th February he "borrowed" a car again and stole a duffle coat and he now appeared on this charge.

Unsatisfactory home conditions

Bouchere was one of a family of nine children, the eldest of whom was 27 and the youngest 11 years. The father was a jobbing gardener and his wife also earned. The total income of the household was substantial, but the home conditions were very unsatisfactory.

After the first offence, Bouchere could have gone into the Army, but the father objected and raised difficulties. Then occurred the two other offences, and the speaker understood that the Probation Officer felt he had a good chance of finding Bouchere employment outside the Island. This job was not in the Army and there was resentment from the Service that it should be thought of as the sink for these cases.

Had twice flouted Court

The Probation Officer hoped to find this suitable employment, but there still remained the fact that Bouchere had twice flouted the Probation Officer and twice flouted the ruling of the Judge of the Lower Court. Bouchere was too young for an approved school and Borstal was of no use. There were two courses, and the one that he was going to suggest was that Bouchere should be birched. It was not usual to make such an order, and when the speaker had asked for a birching in a previous case he had received a letter from an anonymous source in England accusing him of barbarity.

"I am happy to say that in that case the lesson had its effect, for the lad concerned turned out very well and there was no more trouble. Bouchere is not unintelligent, and I feel that, with discipline and good training, he may well turn out all right."

The Attorney-General therefore asked that Bouchere be sentenced to 12 strokes of the birch. What the Probation Officer had in mind was a job in the Merchant Navy. One hoped that the effect of the birching would cause him to be of good behaviour.

Had been in gang

Advocate Stone said that the Attorney-General had dealt very fairly with the question. Young Bouchere had been in a gang from which it was very difficult to get him away and he asked the Court to bear that in mind. If, in the first instance, he had been taught a sharp lesson it might have done what was needed, but he had been treated leniently and he could not get away from the gang. He wondered if birching was really necessary at this stage. If the case was treated with all the wisdom of the Court, some good might come of Bouchere. He was considering Bouchere's welfare.

The Bailiff: The principal factor is that Bouchere has been twice bound over and has twice broken that obligation. He will therefore be sentenced to 12 strokes of the birch.

Sunday Pictorial, London, 13 March 1955

Dennis, 16, is birched regardless

Press cuttingSIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD Dennis Albert Bouchere, who pleaded guilty to stealing a car and a coat while on probation, was sentenced to twelve strokes of the birch at Jersey yesterday.

The Attorney-General, Mr. C.S. Harrison, asked for the sentence.

He said that when he once before asked for a sentence of birching for a youth, he received an anonymous letter from England accusing him of "barbarity."

Good Citizen

"Despite this condemnation, I am pleased to say that in that case the person who was birched eventually turned out to be a good citizen," he said.

Bouchere was taken to jail and birched.

blob RELATED VIDEO CLIP (4½ minutes)

Birching frame53 years later, in March 2008, the local ITV station for the Channel Islands tracked down Dennis Bouchere for an interview.

The now old man states that, at the time, the humiliation was worse than the actual strokes of the birch. This, we are told, was because he had never been seen naked before, even by his brothers, which seems rather bizarre (did he never have to change for sports at school?).

Anyway, he does not give much information about the actual birching (despite "remembering it in vivid detail", according to the reporter), though he does claim that it drew blood. The clip is perhaps more interesting for the remarkable discovery by the TV reporter that the contraption used is still extant in a store room, nearly four decades after JCP was abolished on the island.


This video clip is not currently available.

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