Newport in Wales was the latest port of call visited by Spanish seaman Joseph Garcia, 21, and it would prove to be his last. While ashore he burgled a house, and for that he got nine months in jail. Released in July, 1878, he wandered out of the prison gates, a stranger alone in a foreign land, with only a few words of the language.

He hadn’t gone very far when he came to Castle Cottage at Llangybi, on the road to Usk. This was the home of farm worker William Watkins, 40, and his family. Garcia hadn’t learned any lessons in prison, for he now decided it was time to do another burglary.

An hour later he had committed much more than just another burglary. Inside the bloodstained cottage lay the bodies of Watkins and his wife Elizabeth, 44, and their three children. Husband and wife had put up a terrific struggle for their lives before succumbing to stab wounds, while their children Charlotte, eight, Frederick, five, and Alice, four, were hacked to death with an axe as they slept.To cap his bloody handiwork, Garcia set fire to the children’s beds before he made off with the family’s meagre possessions.

The smoke from the fire he started was seen billowing out of the upstairs window by a farm worker who had come to find out why Watkins hadn’t reported for work that morning. The police were alerted and a watch was mounted on the Welsh ports. That night Garcia was seen walking towards Newport, bearing cuts, bruises, bloodstains and other obvious signs that he had been in a struggle. He was arrested and charged with the five murders.

He was hanged on Monday, November 18th, 1878, at Usk Prison, protesting to the end through the Spanish consul that he was innocent.