A mother, stepfather and a 14-year-old boy have been sentenced to life for the murder of Logan Mwangi, a five-year-old boy found partially submerged in the River Ogmore near Bridgend, South Wales, in July 2021.
Mwangi, who was described by his school as a “loving, sweet-natured child who was polite and articulate at all times”, experienced horrific injuries at the hands of his family, including having his arm broken by his stepbrother, Craig Mulligan.
His stepfather, John Cole, 40, will serve a minimum term of 29 years in prison, his mother, 31-year-old Angharad Williamson, at least 28 years, and his stepbrother will serve at least 15 years.
The three were convicted of murdering Logan at a trial held at Cardiff Crown Court in April. Throughout the trial, Mulligan’s identity could not be revealed due to his age, but the reporting restriction was lifted after his sentence was handed down.
According to The Mirror, a juror found the trial so distressing that she “suffered recurring nightmares and was off work for more than a month”. The case was halted several times due to its harrowing nature and members of the jury are now calling for more support for others put in similarly emotionally challenging circumstances.
Sequence of events
On 20 July 2021, “11 days before his body was found”, Logan was shut in his bedroom with a baby gate across the doorway after testing positive for Covid-19, reported Sky News. “He had been kept like a prisoner in his small bedroom,” prosecutor Caroline Rees QC told the court.
His stammer is said to have worsened around this time, particularly when he was around his stepfather, and he “wet himself more frequently and began self-harming”, said the BBC.
On 26 July, Mulligan – who was not related to Logan, nor to Cole or Williamson, but was raised by Cole from nine months old – moved into the family home. He had been taken into care six months before Logan’s murder after he was assaulted by his mother, said The Guardian.
The foster family who had cared for the teenager earlier in 2021 said Mulligan referred to Logan as a “monster” and said he wanted to kill him on a number of occasions, the BBC reported.
Nearly two weeks after Logan was shut in his room, CCTV footage showed Cole and Mulligan moving the child’s body in a sports bag and dumping it in the nearby river like “fly-tipped rubbish”.
CCTV also caught the pair returning to the house to pick up the dinosaur top he had been wearing, which police later found in a wooded area.
It is not exactly clear how Logan was murdered “because he was killed in his own home”, said the high court judge presiding over the case. She added that the 56 “catastrophic” injuries suffered by Logan were “the sort of injuries seen in abused children”, said LBC.
These injuries included extensive bruising and liver and bowel tears which were “so severe they were consistent with those seen in road traffic accidents”, reported the BBC in April.
Williamson argued that her partner and stepson had attacked the child two days before his body was found and that she had run out of the house in an attempt to get help, but this was rejected by the judge.
All three were arrested on August 4th. Cole was charged with Logan’s murder and all three were charged with perverting the course of justice. Before she was taken into the police car, Williamson insisted that she hadn’t “done anything wrong, I haven’t done anything. I asked for your help and you’re blaming me”. All denied any involvement in Logan’s death, but “Cole later accepted he disposed of the body after Logan died in the house,” said the CPS.
Previous safeguarding referral
Logan had been known to the social services as a safeguarding referral was made after he suffered a broken arm in August 2020. However, a month before his death, “the family were removed from the child protection register, meaning it was believed there was no longer a risk of significant harm,” said Sky News.
The five-year-old had also suffered a broken collarbone in the weeks before he died, but never received medical treatment for his injury.
A social services investigation is now underway into the circumstances surrounding Logan’s death – specifically the fact that Mulligan had been allowed to move back into the family home.
Calls are also being made for a national child safeguarding inquiry to take place in Wales. A national review has already begun in England following the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, and one-year-old Star Hobson, said the Evening Standard.
Plaid Cymru’s Heledd Fychan, who represents the South Wales Central region, described Wales as an “outlier” and “the only nation in the UK that isn’t undertaking a review”.
“It just isn’t good enough,” she added. “Plaid Cymru believes that the rights of the child should be brought fully into Welsh law.”