Couple who killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes jailed

Image source, West Midlands PoliceImage caption, Emma Tustin was convicted of Arthur's murder while his father, Thomas Hughes, was found guilty of his manslaughter

A man has been jailed for 21 years and his partner for a minimum of 29 years over the torture and killing of his six-year-old son, Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Emma Tustin, 32, murdered the boy with a fatal head injury at her home in Solihull last year.

She photographed him lying on the floor, sending the image to his father Thomas Hughes, 29.

Hughes was convicted of the boy's manslaughter.

Image source, Family handout

Sentencing, Justice Mark Wall QC said the case was "one of the most distressing and disturbing" he had ever dealt with.

He said neither defendant had shown any remorse and their behaviour had been "spiteful and sadistic".

One of the most troubling aspects of the case, he added, was that Tustin's own two children "lived a perfectly happy life in that house" just yards from where Arthur was subjected to unthinkable abuse.

This video can not be played

To play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Media caption, Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Stepmum's 999 call as boy lies 'lifeless'

The trial at Coventry Crown Court heard Arthur had been poisoned with salt, subjected to regular beatings, denied food and drink and made to stand for hours alone in the hallway.

Jurors were told Tustin carried out a fatal assault by violently shaking the schoolboy and repeatedly banging his head on a hard surface, and while Hughes was not present then, he was culpable in the death as he "encouraged" violence against his son and dealt out beatings himself.

The judge told the pair "the cruel and inhuman treatment of Arthur was a deliberate decision by you to brush off his cries for help as naughtiness".

  • Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: A life cut short by cruelty
  • Dad and partner guilty of killing six-year-old

Tustin, handed a life sentence for murder, was also sentenced to 10 years for four counts of child cruelty, including assaults, intimidation and the lacing of Arthur's meals with salt.

Hughes, who was found guilty of two cruelty counts, but acquitted of one pertaining to Arthur's salt poisoning and another relating to withholding food and drink, was sentenced to nine years over them. Both killers will serve these sentences concurrently.

A serious case review is under way into circumstances around Arthur's death after it emerged social workers had visited the house in the months before he died and found no cause for concern.

Image source, West Midlands Police Image caption, Video was shown to the court of weakened Arthur struggling to pick up his pillow and blanket at his home

Tustin refused to enter the court room to hear the judge's sentencing remarks or victim impact statements from Arthur's family.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Arthur's mother said his death had destroyed her life.

"Life as I know it will never exist again," Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow's statement said. "I feel hollow every day, I feel as though I'm walking around with all the lights turned off.

"He was the light of my life, the best parts of me. He was a precious, precious gift."

Ms Labinjo-Halcrow is in prison for killing her former partner in 2019. The statement was read by her mother, Arthur's maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, who broke down in tears as she spoke.

Image source, Family HandoutImage caption, Arthur had more than 130 bruises and was emaciated when he died

Arthur's paternal grandmother, Joanne Hughes, also read a statement in which she said the six-year-old was the "sunlight of all our lives".

"His death has turned the colour of our lives into a perpetual grey," she continued.

Ms Hughes said Tustin was remorseless and "the only pity she has shown is for herself".

She also said it was "clear that Arthur was failed by the very authorities that we, as a society, are led to believe are there to ensure the safety of everyone".

Image source, Family handoutImage caption, Joanne Hughes said Arthur should by now have been a "happy, contented, thriving seven-year-old"

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the details of the case were "deeply disturbing" and his thoughts were with those who loved Arthur.

A spokesperson for Number 10 said the government would not hesitate to take any action following the review into Arthur's death.

Football fans have organised tributes for Arthur, including a banner at his beloved Birmingham City. There will also be applause to remember him at the Blues' away match with Millwall this weekend.

During the trial, jurors were told Hughes cut up two of his son's football shirts to punish him.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said the charity was "struggling to come to terms with what Arthur Labinjo-Hughes endured" before his killing.

"This sentencing marks the end of the first stage in achieving some sort of justice for Arthur."

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, help and support is available via BBC Action Line.

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