A mother and stepfather have been jailed for life after being found guilty of the murder of five-year-old Logan Mwangi, who died after months of violent abuse and imprisonment in the “dungeon” of his small, dark bedroom.
Logan’s mother, Angharad Williamson, was told she will serve at least 28 years before being considered for parole while her partner, John Cole, will spend a minimum of 29 years in prison. A 14-year-old youth who was also convicted of Logan’s murder was told he will be detained for 15 years.
After Logan died of the sort of injuries usually found in people who have been involved in a road accident or a fall from a height, Williamson, 31, Cole, 40, and the teenage boy tried to escape justice by dumping the child’s body in a river in the village of Sarn, south Wales, and calling police to report they feared he had been kidnapped.
Mani Ranuata, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This was a callous and cold-hearted killing. Logan was described as a happy, chatty, five-year-old child; a child who stood little chance of protecting himself from the very people who should have been giving him care.”
In a statement read out in court, Logan’s father, Ben Mwangi, paid tribute to “the sweetest and most beautiful boy”.
He said: “I was at work when police officers came and told me about the death of Logan. They told me his body had been found in the river. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I collapsed on the floor and hit my head. I felt like every fibre of my body had died and couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t understand how something like this had happened to my son. I’m devastated I couldn’t have been there to protect him.
“I keep experiencing recurring nightmares. Logan comes to me to tell me he’s OK and to check that I’m OK. He runs into my arms and I hold him tight but he then slowly disappears. I wake up screaming and crying.” Mwangi said after Logan was killed the boy’s grandfather said he was “ready to go” and died in December 2021.
He continued: “Logan was the sweetest and most beautiful boy whose life has been tragically cut short. The world is a colder and darker place without his warm smile and the happy energy with which he lived his life. The hole that has been left in the hearts of all who knew him will never be filled. I loved him so much. I’ll never get to see him grow up to be the wonderful man he would have been.”
Caroline Rees QC, prosecuting, said aggravating factors included that Logan was physically and emotionally vulnerable. The judge, Mrs Justice Jefford, interjected that Logan was only 3ft 5in tall and weighed 3st 1lb.
Rees said the adult defendants should have been people he could trust but he had suffered “extreme and repeated forceful impact” before being treated “like fly-tipped rubbish” and dumped in the river.
She told the court that Cole’s most recent convictions were for robbery, blackmail, perverting the course of justice and intimidating a witness, for which he was jailed for three years in 2007. Williamson was convicted for two thefts in 2014 and received a community order. The teenager had no previous convictions.
Earlier this year, a jury at 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 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. 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.