Pair guilty of murdering six year old boy who was “cruelly mistreated” before his death – .

Pair guilty of murdering six year old boy who was “cruelly mistreated” before his death – .

A “mean” and “mean” mother-in-law was convicted on Thursday of murdering a six-year-old boy, after mistreating, poisoning and ultimately beating him to death.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ father was also convicted, but for manslaughter and not murder, for encouraging the murder – including texting his partner less than 24 hours before the fatal attack, urging him to ” end ”to his son.

The court heard how Emma Tustin, 32, repeatedly hit Arthur’s head on a hard court in the hours leading up to his death, after she and Thomas Hughes, 29, the father of the child, waged a campaign of abuse, including starvation. then force-feed it with food covered in salt.

Warning: this report contains distressing images

Prosecutors described the couple as “utterly ruthless, reckless and ruthless” after details were revealed about the case, including that Tustin photographed Arthur as he died in the hallway of his home on Cranmore Road, Solihull. She then sent the images to Hughes.

Arthur ultimately died, during last year’s lockdown on June 16, of an “insurmountable” brain injury, Coventry Crown Court was told.

Twelve minutes after carrying out the assault, Tustin called 999 – in a recording now widely shared online – and told the operator that Arthur fell and “hit his head” and ” was losing color ”. She then told officers, in person, that her stepson tried to “head butt” her when he fell and hit his head on the ground several times.

Arthur’s mother-in-law tried to explain his other injuries by saying he had to jump down the stairs, despite evidence suggesting he was barely strong enough to pick up his own bedding.

Poignant footage shows the six-year-old in the last hours of his life, stumbling into the living room he was forced to sleep in, without a mattress, wincing in pain, as he tries to move a blanket. Arthur can be heard shouting “no one loves me” several times, to which no one responds.

Arthur is filmed waking up hours before collapsing from fatal injuries, in heart-wrenching CCTV that shows him struggling to tuck his quilt away


“Systematic torturers”

In the wake of today’s verdicts – which came after less than seven hours of deliberation – Arthur’s maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, called Tustin and Hughes “cold, calculating and systematic torturers.”

“They are mean, evil,” she said after Tustin was convicted of murder and Hughes was convicted of manslaughter. “There is no word for them. “

Jurors also found Tustin guilty of two counts of child cruelty, including salt poisoning and denial of food and drink to Arthur.

She had previously admitted two other counts of cruelty by willfully assaulting the child three times and isolating him, including forcing him to stand in the hallway for up to 14 hours a day, as part of a draconian punishment regime.

Family say six-year-old Arthur was ‘chubby, happy’ and ‘always smiling’ before moving in with his mother-in-law

(PA Media)

During Tustin’s five days in the witness box, he was asked to respond to tapes of Arthur in distress, including a film of him kicking and punching himself, and the audio of him moaning at several times of apparent pain.

She claimed she did not realize at the time how serious the abuse was, which led prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC to say it was clear from the tone of his orders to Arthur, whom she had “savored” for being cruel to him.

“I was wrong, very badly,” Tustin replied. “It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. “

Tustin, left, was convicted of murder and Hughes, right, manslaughter

(West Midlands Police / AP)

It also emerged on Thursday that she had received various threats while in prison and awaiting trial, including inmates throwing salt at her. At a preliminary hearing in April 2021, Tustin’s attorney, Mary Prior QC, said her client had suffered “a significant deterioration in her mental health.”

Hughes, who had denied any wrongdoing, was also convicted of the cruelty offenses Tustin admitted – but was cleared of refusing to eat and drink or of poisoning his own son with salt.

During the trial, jurors heard how Hughes, of Stroud Road, Solihull, encouraged Tustin to kill Arthur and at one point said to his son, ‘Look at you, you little asshole, I’m going to bury you six feet under. Earth. “

Artist’s impression of Tustin and Hughes during their trial at Coventry Crown Court

(Hélène Tipper/SWNS)

Hughes claimed in court that he had been “manipulated”, “mentally abused” and “enticed to gas” by Tustin into conforming to his behavioral regimen, which began with the strict use of the “rules of the chair ”and with a“ naughty step ”introduced by his partner. .

He told jurors he “probably” placed the couple’s relationship above his son’s welfare.

At the request of the jury, the judge ordered a minute’s silence for Arthur after the verdicts were read.

“No backup problem”

A key part of the trial involved exposing the failings of various authorities, including children’s services and the police, which likely contributed to Arthur’s death.

It emerged, for example, that he had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, after concerns were raised by his paternal grandmother Joanne Hughes, but it was concluded that he did not there was “no backup problem”.

Another concern was how Arthur came to live with Tustin in the first place. The six-year-old was taken into his father’s care after his birth mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 29, stabbed her partner Gary Cunningham to death in February 2019 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The bruises on Arthur’s body were missed by social services, although they were notified by his grandmother


Hughes met Tustin online and the couple moved in with Arthur to his home near Solihull in the West Midlands when the government declared a lockdown in March 2020.

However, Tustin, who had previously babysat two of his own children, repeatedly complained that she couldn’t cope with Arthur’s behavior during the lockdown and begged Hughes to let him return to his grannies. parents.

Mrs Halcrow, Arthur’s maternal grandmother, reportedly told the Online Mail that Tustin was “obsessed” with the idea that Thomas “would return to Olivia” upon his release from prison, and that “the only way for her to get Olivia out of her life was to get rid of Arthur”.

‘Missed opportunities’

In total, social workers and police are accused of missing four key opportunities to help Arthur last year:

16 avril : Ms Hughes, Arthur’s paternal grandmother, calls social services to say she saw her grandson covered in bruises. Social workers then go to Tustin’s home, but fail to spot the bruises.

Jayne Kavanagh, one of two social workers who examined Arthur that day, later said she had only seen a ‘light’ bruise, attributed to playing fighting with another child, by Hughes and Tustin.

20 avril : Mrs. Hughes tells Arthur’s school about what she saw. A staff member calls social services, but is told the bruises were caused by “fighting games.”

Between April and June: After reporting his concerns to the police, Arthur’s uncle, Daniel Hughes, contacts the West Midlands Police to inquire about his complaint.

He tells officers he tried to visit Tustin and Hughes’ home, which one officer says he will be convicted of breaking Covid lockdown rules if he tries to do so again.

“Weeks” before Arthur’s death on June 16: John Dutton, Tustin’s stepfather, made an anonymous call to social services “weeks” before Arthur’s death, having learned that he was being abused by his father.

In court, Mr Dutton told jurors that Hughes, Arthur’s father, admits to going “into town” with his son. Asked by Mr. Hankin QC, the prosecutor, what he understood at the time, Mr. Dutton replied: ” [Hughes] belt life out of [Arthur].  »

Ms Halcrow, Arthur’s maternal grandmother, also reportedly said Online Mail: “He was abandoned by Social Services and West Midlands Police. There was an opportunity to save him and it was missed.

“Lessons to be learned”

After his death, Arthur was found to have 130 wounds all over his body, having been hit, slapped, kicked, punched and beaten, “over and over again”.

The usually “chubby, happy” and “always smiling” boy was “deprived of adequate food and water,” forced to remain in isolation for hours a day, and repeatedly beaten, punched and kicked.

Jurors were also informed that he remained a weakened and frail shadow of himself, a witness describing how “broken” he looked before his death.

This undated file image shows a happy and smiling Arthur at some point before his death


The Solihull Local Child Protection Partnership said it was now carrying out an independent review of the “terrible tragedy” of Arthur’s death, including contact with social services.

The Independent Police Conduct Office (IOPC) said it had also “conducted and concluded” an investigation into the West Midlands’ handling of the case by force and would issue its report in due course.

Meanwhile, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said the convictions of Tustin and Hughes “should only be the beginning of the process to uncover the whole chain of events that ultimately led to the Arthur’s death, and to establish the lessons that must be learned to prevent this terrible case from happening again ”.

Detective Inspector Laura Harrison, the West Midlands police officer who conducted the investigation, called the couple’s behavior “horrific”, “evil” and unfathomable.

She added: “This is the worst case I have ever had to investigate. “


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