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‘Wicked’ stepmother and ‘pitiless’ father to be sentenced over Arthur’s killing

·3-min read

The “wicked” stepmother and “pitiless” father who killed six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes will be sentenced at Coventry Crown Court on Friday.

Emma Tustin, 32, was convicted on Thursday of murdering the defenceless boy who had been subjected to a campaign of “evil” abuse.

Her partner and Arthur’s father, 29-year-old Thomas Hughes, was found guilty of manslaughter, after his son suffered an “unsurvivable brain injury” on June 16, 2020.

Tustin carried out the fatal assault while in the sole care of Arthur at her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, violently shaking him and repeatedly banging his head, likely against the hallway wall.

She then callously took a photograph of the unconscious youngster on her mobile phone, while he lay dying in her hall, then sending the image to Hughes.

Tustin then took 12 minutes to call 999, instead first ringing Hughes, before lying to medics and later police that Arthur “fell and banged his head”.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes death
Arthur with his father Thomas Hughes and Emma Tustin (Family Handout/West Midlands Police/PA)

She claimed at trial he must have thrown himself down the stairs, despite evidence he was so starved he could barely stand.

Hughes, of Stroud Road, Solihull, was convicted of manslaughter after encouraging the killing by his actions, including sending a text message to Tustin 18 hours before the fatal assault telling her “just end him”.

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

After his death, Arthur was found to have 130 injuries all over his body, after being hit, slapped, kicked, punched and beaten, “over and over”.

Tustin admitted two other counts of child cruelty, by wilfully assaulting the boy and isolating him in the home by making him stand up to 14 hours a day in the hallway with jurors convicting Hughes on both those counts.

Speaking after the verdicts, Arthur’s maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, called them “wicked” and “evil”.

Emma Tustin
Emma Tustin, who was unanimously convicted of murder (West Midlands Police/PA)

She described the couple’s behaviour, which included Tustin poisoning the youngster by force-feeding him salt-laced meals, as “unfathomable”.

“There’s no word for them, especially your own child,” she said.

An independent serious case review is now under way into the actions of Solihull Council social workers who found “no safeguarding concerns” after visiting Arthur, just two months before he was murdered.

Thomas Hughes
Thomas Hughes was convicted of his son’s manslaughter (West Midlands Police/PA)

Hughes’ mother, Joanne Hughes, had seen bruises on Arthur’s back, with the boy telling how Tustin “called him an ugly, horrible brat” and shoved him into the stairs.

She alerted children’s social services to the bruises in April, just weeks before his death.

But two social workers who saw Arthur at Cranmore Road, had “no safeguarding concerns”.

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership is now carrying out an independent review of the circumstances surrounding the “terrible tragedy”, including the actions of Solihull Council’s social services.

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