Everybody who knew him agreed Logan Mwangi was a delightful child – cheerful, polite and vibrant. Relatives and friends describe a zest for life, sense of fun and affectionate nature.
His final months must have been a terrifying, painful ordeal. When Logan’s body was examined after he was found lifeless in the River Ogmore, close to the family home in Sarn, south Wales, it was bruised, grazed and scratched from head to toe. More than 50 injury sites – and many more individual injuries – were found.
Some of his organs, including his brain, liver and stomach, were as badly damaged as if he had been involved in a road crash or fallen from a height. The attack or attacks that caused his death had been sustained and he would certainly have been in pain for many hours. But also pinpointed were older injuries – a broken arm, a fractured collarbone, a burn to the back of his neck. The abuse had been going on for months.
The people Logan should have been able to rely on – his mother, Angharad Williamson, 30, and stepfather, John Cole, 40 – have been found guilty of his murder along with a 14-year-old known as Boy X, whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons. It is not possible to say who did what, but the jury found that all three were culpable.
A child practice review has been commissioned to find out whether mistakes were made by the authorities, who had scores of contacts with the family.
It already seems clear there were clues that terrible things were happening, including explicit threats to Logan’s life from Boy X, a mysterious broken bone that social workers and police knew about, and a worrying change in his appearance and demeanour that teachers noticed. Like many young victims of violence before him, the pieces were not put together.
Logan was born on 15 March 2016 in Bridgend. His mother was raised in Essex by a Welsh mother and English father. She went to a private school, studied film at college in Southend and worked as the manager of a phone shop in east London.
She began a relationship with Logan’s father, Ben Mwangi, an Essex bookmaker of Kenyan heritage, in 2014 but moved back to Wales. Williamson said Logan was a “perfect” child and she adored him.
The relationship with Ben Mwangi ended within months of Logan’s birth and Williamson married a former soldier but left him after three years and moved into a two-bedroom ground-floor flat in the village of Sarn. In spring 2019, Williamson met Cole at a pub in Bridgend. “We connected instantly,” she said.
Born in Warwickshire, Cole was constantly in trouble with the police as a young man, collecting a string of convictions for offences including burglary, possessing a blade in public, and assaults on former partners and a child. Friends from those days say he was a racist with an interest in the National Front.
In 2017, seeking a fresh start, Cole moved to Wales and ended up in a house in the village of Tondu, on the other side of the river from Sarn. Cole falsely told people he had been in the SAS and had a suspended jail sentence hanging over him.
Cole and Williamson began living together, splitting the time between their two homes. He soon became controlling of her and, jealous of Logan’s father, made her cut ties with him. He nicknamed Logan “Coco Pop” because of the colour of his skin, hating that the boy was, in Williamson’s words, “the spit” of his dad.
One acquaintance, whose evidence was not put before the jury, claimed that Cole would have made life “hell” for Logan because of his skin colour.
After the first Covid lockdown in spring 2020, Logan returned to school briefly before the summer holidays. A learning support officer at Tondu primary noticed he was stammering, had lost weight and had dark circles under his eyes.
During the holidays, on 15 August Logan broke an arm in a fall. His mother took him to hospital and staff were concerned enough to contact the police. Williamson said Logan had fallen down the stairs at the Tondu house.
Boy X was a troubled child with mental health issues who lived locally. He would lash out for attention, and teachers described him as disruptive and aggressive.
One of the few pastimes that maintained his interest was Thai boxing. In early 2021 Boy X was hit by his mother and he was taken into care. On the same day, Williamson called the police and told them Boy X had confessed to pushing Logan down the stairs in August. She said she felt Logan was in danger and asked for help. A public protection notice (PPN), designed to flag up vulnerable people, was circulated.
Tension between Cole and Logan increased, and Cole would lose his temper with Logan and hit him around the head.
Williamson was also strict with Logan, and once in this period – according to Cole – burned the back of his neck with a hot coffee spoon. The couple lied to social services that he had burned himself on a hot tap. At this time Logan also sustained a broken collarbone, which was not treated and did not knit back together properly. In court, Cole claimed Logan fell over as he tried to scramble on to a kitchen surface. It now seems likely this was also an attack.
Social services knew of Cole’s criminal past and Logan had been placed on the child protection register (CPR), a list of all children in Wales identified as being at risk of significant harm. Social workers visited several times over the summer and did not flag any concerns, downgrading Logan’s status from “child in protection” to “child in need”.
Meanwhile, Boy X was living with a foster family and giving them a tough time. He threatened to kill them, and Logan. One of the carers claimed: “He was pure evil and enjoyed causing anxiety and fear.” He was fascinated by death and tried to get other children to play a murder game that involved putting them into black bin bags.
In a police statement read out in court, the foster family said they flagged up the threats against Logan with Boy X’s social worker, Debbie Williams, but she brushed them aside. In the witness box, Williams denied she had been told of the issues.
On 21 July Logan tested positive for Covid. The isolation rules imposed by Cole and Williamson were cruel. He was forced to stay in his room, curtains closed, and face the wall when meals were brought to him. A stair gate was set up outside his door so he could not escape. Even Williamson accepted in court that the room was like a “dungeon”. Logan became anxious and self-harmed by pinching or biting himself.
On 29 July a row broke out over a trivial matter: damage to a stereo that Logan was blamed for. Williamson claimed Cole punched Logan in the stomach and Boy X used a martial arts move to sweep him off his feet, causing him to hit his head on the floor.
On that day Williams made an unscheduled visit to the Sarn flat. She was not let in on the pretext that Logan was in isolation, and Boy X, who was outside, told her to “fuck off”.
What happened on the night of Friday 30 July and on Saturday 31 July is not known. Cole said he woke to hear Williamson screaming that Logan was dead but he did not ask how it had happened and, he claimed, simply carried the body out to the river.
Williamson said she slept the night through, woke to find that Logan was missing, and had no idea how he died. Boy X said he accompanied Cole to the river believing he was fly-tipping rubbish.
The jury found that all three stories were lies and that all three defendants had killed Logan and tried to cover up their dreadful crime.