The Times Tuesday 23-Jun-1878
The Murder of a Family.
At the Caerleon (Monmouthshire) Petty Sessions, yesterday, Joseph Garcia 21, was charged with the wilful murder of William Watkins, Elizabeth, his wife, and three children. Charlotte, Alice, and Frederick. The Spanish Consul Senor Uncilla, had instructed Mr.Ensor, of Cardiff to defend. The prisoner, who appeared unmoved during the proccedings, understands but little English. Much of the evidence given had been already stated before the coroner, and was mainly as to the fact of the prisoner having been seen near the spot the day previous to the murder being committed, and to the discovery of the bodies. Police Sergeant Povah saw Watkins and his wife lying on the garden walk stabbed in the neck. Marks of blood were seen on the garden gate and on the wall and ground. It seemed as if a struggle had occurred. Further evidence was given showing that the prisoner called at the house of Mrs. G. Watkin,
about half a mile from the deceased’s house, on the evening of the 17th and asked for a glass of water. Police constable Tooze saw the prisoner drinking water at a fountain near Newport railway station on the night he was arrested. The night foreman porter at Newport station recollected the prisoner coming there at midnight on the 17th. He had two bundles and a loaf of bread. Police sergeant M’Grath apprehended the prisoner. The boots he had with him corresponded with those taklen from Watkins. The prisoner had various articles of male and female apparel in bundles, and the loaf of bread corresponded with a tin found at Watkins’s
house. The prisoner’s clothes were wet and his shirt was stained with blood. Mary Anne and Catherine Watkins, daughters of the deceased, recognized the clothes found in the prisoner’s possession as those of their relatives. The boots were proved by the shoemaker who made them to be the propertv of Watkins. Mr. Robert Boulton, surgeon, of Usk, said he examined the body of William Watkins on the 19th inst. The external marks were two bruises. which were sufficient to cause insensibility. The witness found a wound on the right side of the neck, five and a half inches deep and three inches long. The wound had gone through the carotid vein
into the jugular vein. Both hands were clinched. Watkins died from haemorrhage, and probably bled to death in about two hours. The witness examined the body of the wife, Elizabeth Watkins. There was a quantity of blood on her clothes, and a wound on the left side of her neck, two inches and a quarter long and five inches deep, communicating with two small ones under the chin. There was a wound one inch and a half long on the right side of the neck, and one on the right shoulder two and a quarter inches in length. There were three fingers cut on the right hand, and the ring finger was cut in two places. The children were lying on the fioor, they were very
much burnt, and their night dresses and the bedclothes were marked with blood. The eldest girl, about 10 years of age,was much scorched and had wounds on the neck and spine. In the boy’s throat there was a wound four inches long, and one on the left side of the neck an inch and a half deep. The children had all died from haemorrhage. The witness noticed stains of blood on pieces of calico, and found a child’s dress in the house with marks as if some one had wiped their blood stained hands on it. The solicitor for the defence intimated that the accused would be properly represented, by counsel at the Assizes. The prisoner was then formally committed for trial at the Assizes.
The Times Saturday 20-Jul-1878
The inquest on the bodies of William Watkins, his wife, and three children was held yesterday, before the county coroner, at the White Hart Inn, at the village of Llaugibby. After being sworn, the jury proceeded to the cottage, which stands on the side of the turnpike road, to view the bodies. The father and mother were lying on a temporary stretcher, and the three children in a burnt bedroom upstairs. The man’s features were still passive, and the only wound was in the neck, the gash separating the carotid artery. The woman was stabbed in the chest and through the neck from the back, and her fingers were severely cut, where she had apparently grasped the murderer’s knife. In addition to the stabs and the cuts upon the throats of the children, their lower limbs were in several cases charred to cinders.
On the jury reassembling, evidence was given of which the following is a sumnmary: Ann James deposed that she passed ‘Watkins’s house about 10 o’clock and saw the door open, and on her return a few minates later the door was shut, and there was a light upstairs.
Several witnesses spoke to the discovery of the bodies as already announced. Harriet Bowyer said she saw the prisoner lying close by the side of the stile, about 100 yards from the house of the deceased man Watkins, and Ann G. Watkins proved that she gave
the prisoner water when he called at her house in Llangibby on the day of the murder. A warder from Usk Gaol proved the prisoner’s liberation on the morning of that day, and gave details of the clothing, money, and other articles which he then had. He had no knife.
Sergeant M’Grath deposed to the prisoner’s apprehension at the Great Western Railway Station at Newport. He had then a bag containing a female’s cloth jacket, a black-lead brush, some works of a clock, and some gloves, stockings, and handkerchiefs. Some of the articles had been washed, and these were objects of much interest, and were closely examined by the jury. He had 3s. 1d. in English money, and a knife. Mary Ann Watkins, a daughter of the deceased, identified many of the artiles procuced as her parents, property. On Monday she left her father’s house after a fortnight’s holiday. The boots produced were her father’s, and the cloth jacket belonged to her mother. Mr. Donald Bouldon, who had made a post mortem, examination of the bodies, detailed the nature of the wounds. The man had two bruises on the forehead, which would have been sufficient to render him insensible. The wound in the neck was 3in. Iong, 5half in. deep, and extended backwards and upwards. Watkins would have bled to death in two minutes or less. He could not have inflicted the wound himself. The jury hereupon, upon an intimation from the coroner, thought that no further evidence was needed, and, after a brief consultation, returned a verdict of Wilful murder ” against Joseph Garcia. ‘The prisoner will be brought before the magistrates at Caerleon on Monday next. Although the village is difficult of access, large numbers of persons have visited the scene of the murder. It was considered advisble, not only on sanitary grounds, but also with the view of avoiding the assemblage of a large crowd, that the funeral of Watkins and his family should be solemnized as early as possible. Accordingly the vicar of the parish attended and officiated at the burial yesterday evening. The bodies were all laid in one spacious grave. The chief mourners were the surviving children of the unfortunate family. The proceedings were carried out with the greatest decorum and solemnity in the presence of some hundreds of persons.
The Times Friday 2-Aug-1878
MONMOUTH, JULY 31.
The Commission was opened here yesterday by Baron Pollock. There are six causes entered for trial, three of which are special juries. In the Crown Court the calendar contains the names of 13 prisoners, among them being Joseph Garcia, the Spaniard, who stands charged with the wilful murder at Llangibby of Wiiliam Watkins, his wife and three young children. These murders, it will be remembered, were perpetrated on the 16th of the present month, and the prisoner, who was arrested the following night at Newport, was committed by the magistrates on the 22d to take his trial at these Assizes. The terrible and almost unprecedented nature of the crime with which he is charged, involving, as it did, the massacre of an inoffensive family, the circumstances under which they were slain, and, possibly, also the nationality of the prisoner, have combined to invest the approaching trial with deep interest, and from an early ???r the court and its approaches have been thronged with people anxious to witness the proceedings, and obtain, if possible, a
glimpse of the prisoner. Early in the day the Grand Jury came into court with a true bill and the prisoner was brought into the dock to plead. In appearance, he is a man of slight build and short stature, with black eyes and hair, and a somewhat swarthy complexion. Being asked by the Clerk of Arraigns whether he understood English, the prisoner shook his head, and a slight delay arose owing to the absence of an interpreter. Upon his arrival the nature of the charge wvas explained to the prisoner, and he was asked whether he pleaded “Guilty” or “Not Guilty.” In a low tone he answered “Not Guilty.”
Mr. MADDY, on behalf of the prisoner, addressing his Lordship, said he was instructed to ask that the trial of the prisoner might be postponed to the Autumn Assizes in October next. The learned counsel said his application Was made upon more grounds than one. In the first place, as stated in an affidavit before him by the prisoner’s solicitor, the prisoner was only commited eight days ago, and his solicitor only received the depositions on Thursday last, the 25th. He had not, therefore, had sufficient time to prepare the defence. The
difficulty was aggravated by the prisoner being a foreigner, entirely ignorant of English, and by the fact that his solicitor lived at Cardiff, some distance from Usk Gaol. Baron POLLOCK inquired what the affidavit said with respect to the prisoners knowledge of English.
Mr. Maddy read from the attidavit, which stated that the prisoner was entirely ignorant of the language, and that his solicitor had had no opportunity of discussing the charge with him or reading over to him the evidence. The learned counsel continued that he had a further
affidavit disclosing a state of feeling in the county against the prisoner which might almost be described as mad rage. This feeling had been stimulated by the local press and inflamed by an expression of opinion by the coroner at the inquest, who had said there was
no doubt who committed the murder. The prejudice thus excited against the prisoner lessened his chance of a fair trial, and would be completely removed by a postponement of the trial. as in such an event it would not be held at Monmouth, but at Glocester.
In reply to his LORDSHIP,
Mr. BOSANQUET (who with Mr. Lawrence appeared for the prosecution) said he was instructed to oppose the application, as being made purely w-ith the purposes of delay. With regard to the plea of insufficient time, it appeared that the prisoner had consuited the
Spanish Consul at Cardiff and his solicitor as early as the 19th, and that his solicitor had appeared for him and defended him before the magistrates. The solicitor had thus full knowledge of the nature of the evidence before a copy of the depositions was supplied to him. His Lordship said, with regard to the state of feeling in the county, he would not trouble Mr. Bosanquet on that part of the case. The application was extremely important, and he would take the advantage of consulting. Mr Justice Manisty before giving his decision. His Lordship then left the court, and on his return said, I need hardly say, in presence of so many members of the Bar, that if this had been an ordinary civil Cause the statements in the affidaviti of the prisoner’s solicitor would not have been strong enough to indure me to consent to any postponement. I may also add, most emphatically and with the full concurrence of my brother Manisty, with reference to the statements as to the public feeling, that, although thay’ have been properly brought to the notice of the Court, I should
not have acted on those statements so as to postpone the trial. They seem to be nothing more than could have been expected after so dreadful a tragedy, and, moreover, I should not be acting with due regard to the credit or position of the jurymen in this county if I believed that they could be prejudiced by any such feeling. But when I come to the statemsent of the prisoner’s solicitor with respect to insufficient time to prepare the defence, I come to a very different question. His Lordship here referred to the affidavit, observing that it stated that if more time were granted the solicitor would be able to adduce important evidence. which as yet he had not had time to procure. This, said his Lordship, has weighed much on my mind, and on the grounds so stated, and those only, I think it right to say that the trial should be postponed to the Autumn Assizes.
The prisoner was then remov