Little Logan’s parents used lockdown to hide his abuse: Report into five-year-old’s murder exposes failures by police, health and social services who were too scared to challenge family’s ‘Covid anxiety’ to force home visits
- Logan Mwangi was fatally attacked at his home in Llansantffraid, Sarn, Bridgend
- He was then dumped in nearby River Ogmore in the early hours of July 31, 2021
- His mother and stepfather were jailed for his murder in June earlier this year
- Logan’s stepbrother, 14, was also jailed for a minimum of 15 years for murder
- A review today found multiple failures in the weeks leading up to his death
Logan Mwangi was exposed to failures by police and health and social services who were too scared to challenge the family’s Covid anxiety to insist on visiting him at home, a safeguarding review has found.
The defenceless five-year-old was fatally attacked at his home in Llansantffraid, Sarn, Bridgend, before his body was dumped in the nearby River Ogmore in the early hours of July 31 last year.
His mother and stepfather, along with Logan’s 14-year-old stepbrother, were found guilty of his murder by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court in June.
John Cole, 40, Angharad Williamson, 31, are serving minimum terms of 29 years and 28 years consecutively, while teenager Craig Mulligan was jailed for a minimum of 15 years.
The trio murdered Logan – who had suffered 56 external cuts and bruises, and ‘catastrophic’ internal injuries – before dumping the five-year-old’s pyjama-clad body in the river.
A child practice review by Cwm Taf Morgannwg Safeguarding Board – examining the police, school workers, NHS staff and social services – today found there were multiple failures in the weeks and months leading up to Logan’s death.
It found Williamson and Cole were able to hide their abuse of Logan due lockdown during the pandemic – and social workers were too scared to force meetings.
The report said: ‘Covid-19 was a further barrier to identifying potential disguised compliance, i.e. the family appearing to co-operate with professionals in order to allay any concerns and stop professional engagement.
‘This is particularly apparent within the family’s engagement in child protection interventions, the children within the home’s lack of school attendance and delays in seeking medical assistance.’
It added that social workers had a ‘lack of confidence in challenging the family’s potential use of Covid anxieties and Covid symptoms as a barrier to engagement with services.’
Logan was tortured, starved and forced to do push-ups until he collapsed
John Cole, 40, Angharad Williamson, 31, will have to serve minimum terms of 29 years and 28 years consecutively
Craig Mulligan (left) was not related to Logan (right) but was the other stepson of killer John Cole. He moved into the house five days before Logan’s death
The family reported Logan suffered burns in the bath on May 7 – but it later transpired that the injury came from Williamson pressing a hot spoon against his neck.
But despite the wound – which was reported to social services – Logan was removed from the child protection register just 13 days later without a proper plan put in place for his well-being.
The review also found social workers were so consumed with Williamson and Cole and their three-way ‘banshee’ relationship with Mulligan’s mother that they missed what was happening to Logan.
The focus on the adults in the house led to an ‘absence’ of time spent with the child.
It said: ‘The complexities of the adult relationships involved in the care of Child T overshadowed professionals’ line of sight to him. There was no knowledge of the reality of his lived experience.’
They also failed to consider whether Logan’s mixed-race heritage would have made him a target for racist abuse from Cole, who was a former National Front member.
The report ‘Professionals did not fully explore the context of Child T’s race and ethnicity on his lived experience.
‘With the value of hindsight, we know that both Adult A (Cole) and Child Y held and expressed racist and discriminatory views that one would expect to have made life very hard for Child T within the family.’
The review identified that injuries observed by health practitioners on Logan, referred to in the report as ‘Child T’, were not shared with services that could have taken appropriate action to safeguard him.
It added: ‘As a result of this extended child practice review, key learning has been identified.
‘The review panel believes that these issues may be systemic, and not isolated instances of individual error or poor practice.’
Cole had previous convictions including assault on a child, possession of an offensive weapon, theft and illegal drug possession, and had served a prison sentence for burglary.
In August 2020, Logan attended his local accident and emergency unit with an injury to his arm, bruises to his right cheek and a fractured upper arm.
A child protection referral was made, raising concerns in relation to the delay in Williamson bringing Logan to hospital to receive medical attention for the injuries.
But social services and police ‘agreed that the threshold to undertake child protection enquiries had not been met at that stage, on the basis that there was limited medical information’, the report states.
Police checked Cole’s convictions and it was ‘agreed at that time he was not an appropriate person to solely care’ for Logan or Mulligan.
Logan Mwangi’s mother Angharad Williamson, 31, (left) and her partner John Cole (right), 40, were been sentenced to life in prison for Logan’s murder
Logan (pictured) was found dead in the River Ogmore in Pandy Park, around 250 metres from the flat where he lived with his family in Lower Llansantffraid, Sarn, Bridgend on the morning of July 31, 2021
An aerial photo showing the spot where Logan’s body was discovered in the River Ogmore (circled, along with the house)
Mulligan’s identity had been anonymised due to his age – but a judge lifted the order of naming him after he was jailed for 15 years for Logan’s murder
Officers attended the hospital and the family home, where they were told Logan’s injuries were caused by a fall down the stairs.
In a further health assessment by a paediatric doctor, Logan was found to have sustained ‘wider bruising and injuries’, with 31 images taken.
Records show that he had a blue mark above his genitalia, two bruises to his ankle, two bruises to his forehead, bruising to the top of both ears, bruising behind one ear, bruises to both cheeks and a carpet bruise to his chin.
Logan had also suffered bruising to his left arm and bruising around his broken shoulder.
The report continued: ‘Injuries observed on Child T were not shared with services that could have taken appropriate action to safeguard him.
‘Several of the injuries, even in isolation, should have triggered a referral.
‘If the injuries were considered by Health Professionals to be non-accidental there should have been clear considerations to the number of injuries and site on the body, parental supervision being afforded to Child T and if wider agencies’ support was required. This again should have triggered a child protection referral.’
Williamson claimed Logan would bang his head, pinch himself and said the mark to his ears was from wearing a mask to protect from Covid-19. No explanation was given to the mark above his genitalia.
Logan’s biological father Ben Mwangi (seen outside court today) said he collapsed at work when police officers informed him Logan’s tiny three stone body had been found dumped in a river
‘It’s like every fibre in my body has died’: Logan’s father’s harrowing victim impact statement
The heartbroken father of murdered Logan Mwangi said his son visits him in ‘recurring nightmares’ when he wakes from dreams screaming and crying. Ben Mwangi said he collapsed at work when police officers informed him Logan’s tiny three stone body had been found dumped in a river.
In a victim impact statement read to Cardiff Crown Court earlier this year, Mr Mwangi said the world was a ‘colder and darker place’ without Logan. He said: ‘On Saturday 31st July 2021 I was at my place of work when police officers came and told me about the death of Logan. They told me that his body had been found in the River Ogmore in the early hours of the morning. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I felt so confused.
‘I just collapsed on the floor and hit my head. I just felt like every fibre in my body had died and couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t understand how something like this could have happened to my son. The rest of the day was a blur as I waited for more information. It was so painful. The following day when I was made aware that Logan’s mother had been arrested on suspicion of his murder. I am just devastated that I couldn’t have been there to protect him.
‘The last 10 months have been hell for me. I can’t sleep and keep experiencing recurring nightmares. My dreams of Logan are so vivid, Logan comes to tell me that he ok and to check if I’m ok. He runs into him in my arms and I hold him tight, but he then slowly disappears until he’s no longer in my arms. I wake up screaming and crying. I find it difficult to go back to sleep; I don’t want to go back to sleep because I don’t want to experience these dreams because they are so painful.
‘Logan was the sweetest and most beautiful boy whose life has been tragically cut short. The world is a colder and darker place without this 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. No amount of time can heal the wounds that have been inflicted.’
The following day, the family’s social situation was discussed by children’s services and health professionals.
But the paediatric consultant did not consider that Logan had suffered a non-accidental injury.
A discussion followed between police and children’s services, which agreed that Logan should be discharged from hospital into his mother’s care.
Children’s services then agreed that the referral would be closed.
The report has made 10 local recommendations and five national recommendations following Logan’s death.
These include urging Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board to commission an independent review into its practice and management of identifying and investigating non-accidental injuries in children.
Nationally, it suggests the Welsh Government should consider commissioning a review of approaches to undertaking Child Protection Conferences to help with identifying best practice, as well as the possibility of an annual National Awareness Campaign to raise public awareness on how to report safeguarding concerns.
The chair of the safeguarding board which dealt with Logan’s case has apologised for failings.
Paul Mee told a press conference: ‘The board and the agencies that were involved with Logan Mwangi and his family during his short life have accepted in full the findings of the child practice review that has been published today.
‘This review, amongst a number of other findings, identifies service failures where agencies could and should have acted differently. For these failures, we take full responsibility and apologise.’
He also pledged to ‘fully implement the recommendations made in this review and in doing so improve our safeguarding practice to prevent this from happening again’.
Jan Pickles, the independent chair of the multi-agency panel which undertook the review, added: ‘Had further information from health been shared it most likely, though we cannot say for sure because of hindsight bias, would have triggered a child protection assessment in line with the joint agreed guidelines, as the nature of those injuries clearly met the threshold.
‘This tragedy has shown that the multi-agency safeguarding hub was not able at the time to deliver information-sharing, case discussion and decision-making within the relevant agencies as well as it was intended to do.
‘This critically affected the ability of agencies involved to respond to this case, as no agency was ever able to develop a full picture of what was happening, despite all agencies having important pieces of information.’
A Welsh Government spokesperson also said: ‘This is a tragic case and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Logan’s death, particularly his father.
‘The Welsh Government will do everything we can to support our children’s workforce to achieve the highest professional standards possible.’
Cardiff Crown Court earlier heard how Logan – who was just 3ft 5in and weighed 3st at the time of his death – was tortured, starved and forced to do push-ups until he collapsed.
Experts said his injuries were ‘consistent with child abuse’ and prosecutors said in the months and weeks leading up to his death, Logan had been ‘dehumanised’ by his family.
Logan’s stammer had worsened, becoming particularly bad around Cole, and the terrified little boy wet himself more frequently and began self-harming.
Judge Mrs Justice Jefford said Logan was, ‘subjected to a brutal attack’, telling his killers: ‘Inflicting these injuries on a small, defenceless five-year-old is nothing short of horrific.’
She added: ‘You are responsible for Logan’s death and all the anguish that has followed from it. Because he was killed in his own home, it is not possible to be sure what has happened to him.
‘Shortly before his death, at which time he was three feet five inches and weighed only three stone one pound, he was subjected to a brutal attack.’