A five-year-old boy was murdered by his mother, stepfather and a 14-year-old youth after months of abuse and imprisonment in the “dungeon” of his small, dark bedroom, a jury has found.
After Logan Mwangi died of the sort of injuries usually found in people who have been involved in a road accident or a fall from a height, Angharad Williamson, John Cole and the teenage boy tried to escape justice by dumping the boy’s body in a river and calling police to report they feared he had been kidnapped.
Cardiff crown court heard that in the months before Logan was killed he vanished from the sight of authorities, with his family using the pandemic as an excuse for locking him away.
An inquiry has been launched to examine whether there were chances to save Logan after it emerged that the authorities knew about some of the injuries he sustained in the months before he died.
The inquiry will also look at what was known of Cole’s past. It can now be revealed that his violent history includes a previous attack on a child, and he is said to have had an interest in the National Front. The court heard that Cole hated Logan’s similarity in looks to his natural father, who is of Kenyan heritage, suggesting racism may have played a part in his attitude towards Logan.
Another issue is why death threats against Logan allegedly made by the 14-year-old in the weeks before the murder were not acted on by the authorities.
As Williamson was found guilty, she fell to the floor, screaming: “No, no, no.” While she was being led from the court, Williamson struggled with the dock officers and shouted at Cole: “You lying motherfucking murderer.”
Outside court, Logan’s father, Ben Mwangi, said: “Logan was the sweetest and most beautiful boy. The world is a colder and darker place without his warm smile and the happy energy. I loved him so much and I have to live my life knowing that I will never get to see him grow up to be the wonderful man he would have been.”
In her closing speech, Caroline Rees QC said Logan was “dehumanised” by each of the defendants. She said: “He had been kept like a prisoner in his small bedroom, a room described by Angharad Williamson as like a dungeon, with the curtains closed and a barred child’s gate stopping him from moving about.”
When his body was examined, it was bruised, grazed and scratched from head to toe, with more than 50 injury sites – and many more individual injuries – recorded. He suffered damage to his brain, liver and stomach. Rees said his death would have been slow and painful.
The prosecutor said that after killing Logan the three defendants plotted to “clean up the scene and put a trail in place to lead the police up the wrong track”.
She said that before the murder Williamson, 30, and Cole, 40, worked together to cover up Logan’s previous injuries, including an arm injury and a burn to his neck, from social workers and the police.
Two days before his body was found, Cole punched Logan in the stomach and the 14-year-old swept Logan off his feet using a martial arts move. Cole said: “The only way this boy understands is pain.”
The case focuses attention on the disturbing increase in abuse suffered by children during the Covid pandemic. Contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline from adults across the UK with concerns about the wellbeing of a child increased by 23% in 2020-21 from the previous year, to a record high of almost 85,000.
Speaking away from the court, a family who fostered the 14-year-old boy said they would find knives hidden behind pillows and they claimed they had warned social services he had threatened to kill Logan.
The woman who fostered him said he was fascinated with killing and on the day he left had an “evil” grin on his face. The foster mother’s daughter said the youth repeatedly talked about how much he hated Logan and “wanted him dead”, adding: “He didn’t even call him Logan, he called him ‘the five-year-old’.” She claimed social services were told about the threats but the teenager’s social worker denied in court that she had been told.
The Cwm Taf Morgannwg safeguarding board, which is responsible for children at risk in Bridgend, said the child practice review would look at the contacts agencies had with the family.