A leading academic has called for jurors in England and Wales who sit on distressing cases like the Logan Mwangi murder trial to be offered counselling like they are in Scotland. Clinical psychology expert Professor Noelle Robertson believes it should be offered to people after “difficult trials”.
The call came after jurors listened for 10 weeks to details about the horrific life of abuse little Logan suffered. The five-year-old was found dead in the River Ogmore in Sarn, Bridgend, in July last year with injuries similar to those from a high-speed car crash.
The youngster had suffered more than 56 external injuries as well as horrific internal wounds including a large tear to his liver and one to his bowel. Experts said the injuries could have only been caused by a “brutal and sustained assault” inflicted on Logan in the hours, or days, prior to his death. They also said the injuries were “consistent with child abuse”.
Read more : The five missed opportunities to save Logan
Tiny Logan had been dumped in the river in the early hours by his 6ft 4in stepdad John Cole, 40, who had made his life a living hell with beatings and bullying. Sadly his death was the culmination of a lifetime of abuse at the hands of both former National Front member Cole and Logan’s mum Angharad Williamson, 31. You can read the full tragic story by clicking here.
The trial at Cardiff Crown Court was paused several times when jurors found details surrounding Logan’s death too distressing. After Williamson, Cole, and a youth were found guilty on Thursday Mrs Justice Jefford thanked the jury for their “exceptional public service” and recognised they had endured “very unpleasant and emotional evidence”. She also told them they would never have to undertake jury service again.
Prof Robertson told BBC Wales that more support should be offered to jurors in distressing cases in England and Wales. “At the moment in Scotland if a trial of this kind is deemed by the judge to have been profoundly upsetting for the jurors then the judge can make provision for counselling to be offered subsequent to the trial. As yet, however, in England and Wales that isn’t available.
“The judge presiding in this terrible case has obviously been sensitive to the needs of jurors by indicating that they’re excused now from a further jury involvement. But I do think we could think more routinely about the provision of support for jurors who are particularly troubled after cases of this kind.”
She added: “During difficult trials it would not be unusual for people to be experiencing some degree of emotional disturbance, feel sad. You might feel flat, you might notice that your sleep was disturbed, you might feel restless, you might feel physical tension.”
She said for the majority of people those feelings would diminish over time but a small minority could be “really profoundly affected”. “They can continue to have intrusive thoughts about the process, they might have flashbacks, they might re-imagine images they’ve seen and find those continue to intrude into their lives,” she said.