On his return home from work on OCTOBER 26th, 1921, David Thomas was surprised to find all the doors locked at his cottage near Pontypool, Gwent. His calls to his 48-year-old wife Margaret went unanswered, so he fetched a ladder and entered their home through a bedroom window that had been left open. On going downstairs he discovered why there had been no response to his calls. His wife lay beaten to death on the kitchen floor.
She had been a fastidious housekeeper, always clearing the table and washing-up as soon as a meal was finished. The couple had breakfasted at about 6.20 a.m., and as the table had not been cleared it seemed that she had been murdered soon after her husband went to work.
The police learned that a tramp had called at the cottage earlier in the week, and had been given some bread and cheese. On the day of the murder he had called at a neighbour’s home, asking for a drink of water. A search was launched for him, and he was found on November 17th and taken in for questioning.
He was William Stuart, 41, and the most incriminating piece of evidence against him was a pair of trousers he had been attempting to sell. David Thomas identified them as his own, so Stuart must have been in the cottage and taken them.
The tramp was consequently charged with murder, which he denied at his trial at Monmouth Assizes, claiming that at the time in question he had been elsewhere with another man also named Stuart.
His counsel attempted to paint a scenario in which the killer was the victim’s husband, but the other Stuart did not support the tramp’s alibi and this, coupled with the damning trousers, convinced the jury of the William Stuart’s guilt.
Sentenced to death, he was executed at Usk Prison on March 22nd, 1922, just eight days before it was closed down.