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Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

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I'm not ashamed to say I cried a little reading about this.  An absolutely heartbreaking story of the torture and death of a six-year-old boy at the hands of those he should have been able to trust the most.  I hugged my two a little more tonight before their bedtimes tonight.

--- Quote ---A father and his partner have been found guilty of the killing of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

The boy was tortured by Thomas Hughes and Emma Tustin, eventually dying of a head injury while in the care of his stepmother.

Tustin shook him and banged his head on a hard surface after poisoning him with salt, the court heard.

At Coventry Crown Court, Tustin was convicted of murder and Hughes found guilty of manslaughter.

The pair were also convicted of child cruelty charges.

Following the verdicts the jury asked if they could hold a minute's silence for Arthur, which they were allowed to do. They were also excused from sitting on another jury for life.

They heard weeks of harrowing evidence, including how Arthur was force-fed salt-laced meals, kept isolated in the home, starved, dehydrated and routinely beaten.

He was forced to "stand like a statue" near the front door for hour after hour, and on another occasion his father cut up two of his Birmingham City shirts as punishment.

Jurors, who took six hours and 15 minutes to return their verdicts, were also shown and listened to hours and hours worth of audio and video clips recorded in the final weeks of Arthur's life, including CCTV from an in-lounge camera on the morning before he was fatally injured, where he appeared to limp and cry, and struggled to fold up a duvet he had been given to sleep on downstairs.

In one audio clip, Arthur could be heard crying "no-one loves me," repeating the phrase four times, while in another he cries "no-one's gonna feed me" seven times.

Arthur was "scarcely able to articulate his words" and could no longer support his own weight by the time of his murder.

Arthur's biological mother had herself been jailed for stabbing her own partner to death.

Hughes and Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow had shared custody of their son until her arrest for killing 29-year-old delivery driver Gary Cunningham in their home at Frensham Way, Birmingham, in February 2019.

During Tustin's evidence, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said it was clear from the tone of her commands to Arthur that she had "relished" being cruel towards him.

While Tustin was accused of carrying out the fatal assault by violently shaking him and repeatedly banging Arthur's head on a hard surface after poisoning him with a "salt slurry", Hughes was "complicit in the violence," prosecutors had told jurors.

Despite medical evidence suggesting there was no way Arthur could have self-inflicted his fatal injuries, Tustin maintained she was not responsible.

She took a photograph of Arthur on her mobile phone as he lay dying in the hallway, sending the image to Hughes, the court heard.

She then took 12 minutes to call 999, lying to medics that Arthur "fell and banged his head and while on the floor banged his head another five times", later claiming he must have thrown himself down the stairs, despite evidence he was barely strong enough to pick up his own bedding.

Although he was not present for the fatal assault on Arthur, prosecutors argued Hughes was equally culpable as he "encouraged" violence against his son, as well as dealing out beatings himself.

The court previously heard Hughes made a number of threats towards his son, including to "put him six feet under", and had also sent Tustin messages such as "just end him".

The court also heard Arthur had told others his "dad was going to kill him", he expressed this to his wider family, his doctor and his school.

On one occasion before his death, Arthur told his father: "I am in danger with you, dad".

In court, the pair had been described by prosecutors as "utterly ruthless, unthinking and pitiless".


Analysis by Phil Mackie, Midlands Correspondent

The circumstances surrounding Arthur Labinjo-Hughes's death are truly shocking. No-one can be blamed for what happened other than the people who were supposed to be looking after him - Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes.

However, there were opportunities when - if the agencies involved had intervened - Arthur might have been saved. This will be the subject of a serious case review which is expected to be published next year.

It's hard not to see some similarities between Arthur's case and others that I have covered, including the deaths of Daniel Pelka, Keanu Williams and Keegan Downer.

But there is one big difference. Arthur's abuse escalated as soon as he and his father moved in with Tustin at the start of the first lockdown last year. It carried on behind closed doors at a time when everyone was isolating and face-to-face meetings were rare.

The NSPCC has said it saw a 23% increase in calls at the time. It may be that lockdown might also be considered to have been a factor in the little boy's death.


Speaking after the verdicts, Arthur's maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, called them "wicked" and "evil" and described their behaviour as "unfathomable".

"I think they are cold, calculating, systematic torturers of a defenceless little boy. They're wicked, evil. There's no word for them, especially your own child," she said.

Det Insp Laura Harrison of West Midlands Police said it was not clear why Tustin and Hughes caused Arthur so much harm and suffering or why they installed a CCTV camera in their home, but it proved invaluable in showing what his life was like.

She added they found no evidence of a space in the house Arthur "could have called his own".

"Officers found his duvet shoved in a cupboard under the stairs, because he was made to sleep on the floor in the living room each night."

Tustin, of Cranmore Road in Shirley, had admitted two counts of child cruelty which accused her of intimidation and assaults but denied a third count alleging she poisoned Arthur with salt-laced drinks and meals.

Hughes, 29, was also convicted of the cruelty offences which Tustin had admitted but cleared of withholding food and drink, or of poisoning his own son with salt.

It emerged at trial that Arthur had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, after concerns were raised by his paternal grandmother Joanne Hughes, but they concluded there were "no safeguarding concerns".

An independent review is now under way into the authorities' contact with Arthur before his death.

An NSPCC spokesperson said the cruelty inflicted "almost defies belief", adding their convictions must be the start of a process to "uncover the chain of events" and "establish what lessons need to be learned".

The pair will be sentenced on Friday at Coventry Crown Court.
--- End quote ---

All the associated stories too, I'm just genuinely hurting on the inside for him.

Fucking enraging, mate. It's hard to imagine that justice can be done in this case, no matter what punishment they receive. Poor, poor lad.

Heartbreaking that.  Sounds like the kid had zip periods of joy in his short life.

Nobby Reserve:
I can't read it. I read part of the BBC article a couple of days ago and started to break down.

What kind of evil, psychotic piece of shit could do that to any child? But your own fucking kid?

I hope every minute for the rest of his (and her) stinking, miserable lives are filled with pain.

What gets me is there are some people who are never able to have children and would give anything to have a child. Then you hear about scum like this and it totally sickens you. At least the poor little one is in a better place, no kid should have to put up with stuff like this.  :(


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