IN JULY 1878, a family of five people were found dead at this cottage in Llangibby, on the Newport Road from Usk.

The bodies were discovered early on the morning of Wednesday, July 17 by an 11-year-old neighbour who had gone to start work on the farm.

On discovering the body of Elizabeth Watkins on the garden path, the lad ran to his neighbours to raise the alarm.

The body of William Watkins was then found by the cottage door with the cottage itself on fire and so the bodies of the children of the family were only discovered after helpers had pulled some of the tiles off the roof of the cottage to try to put out the fire.

Later that day, a Spanish prisoner, Josef Garcia, 21, who had been released from Usk Prison the day before, was arrested in Newport.

Garcia, an itinerant sailor, was found to have been carrying a large clasp-knife, several items of female clothing, the mechanism for a clock, and a loaf of bread.

Garcia was immediately taken to Caerleon to be charged with the five murders by the Magistrate, and was booed and jeered at by an angry mob.

The anger following the murders in the area was huge and the trial had to be held in Gloucester Shire Hall to reduce the chances of a riot.

He was found guilty and sentenced to death. But was Garcia a scapegoat or was he a multiple murderer?

Nostalgia is provided by Torfaen Museum.