A court heard that a murdered six year old sobbed as he tried to tell family members ‘no one loves me’ and ‘I won’t be fed today’ before he died.
Bullying parents Thomas Hughes, 29, and his girlfriend Emma Tustin, 32, were together accused of murder after Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was discovered with an unsurvivable brain injury at his home in Solihull, Warwickshire.
Coventry Crown Court heard that the couple poisoned the six-year-old with salt and made him endure months of abuse before killing him by hitting his head against a hard surface.
The volatile and dysfunctional twosome supposedly encouraged each other to hurt and degrade Arthur, who suffered a crusade of battery intended to terrorise him.
Describing the prosecution evidence, Jonas Hankin, QC, told how Arthur’s ill-treatment met the medical definition of child cruelty.
He was left alone for up to 14 hours a day, without a bed or clothing and was left unfed and without anything to drink.
Arthur had been in the sole care of his father after his real mother, Olivia Labinjo, was convicted of stabbing her boyfriend in 2019.
Audio files recovered from Tustin’s phone were presented to jurors, with Arthur heard sobbing: ‘I want to go to nanny’, and ‘no-one loves me, no-one’s going to feed me today’.
Text messages exchanged between Hughes and Tustin were also presented to the court, with one from his father reading: ‘I’ll deal with him when I’m home and it won’t be pretty.’
After hearing a voice note of Arthur crying, he warned in further texts: ‘I’ll end him when I’m back.’
In another message, Hughes compares his son to ‘f—— Hitler’ and threatens to take his jaw off his shoulders. Both Hughes and Tustin deny murder.
In April 2020, it emerged children’s social services and police were alerted by his paternal grandmother to concerns about Arthur’s care. The extended family had seen bruises on Arthur’s back, and he said Tustin had called him an ugly, horrible brat and pushed him headfirst into the stairs.
Mr Hankin told the jury that after children’s social services saw Arthur on April 17, no concerns were raised, and while photos of the bruises were sent to the police, no further steps were taken.
You just can’t put things like this into words, and how did this treatment from two evil people go unnoticed by teachers, neighbours and most importantly social services – what the hell were they doing while this was all going on?
But this should be of no surprise, with the police and social services doing absolutely nothing, yet again in the face of blatant abuse, and let me guess, all those who abuse will just get a slap on the wrist and then do it again.
This little boy was made to stand on a step for 14 hours a day by this couple, accused of killing him.
Arthur was denied the opportunity to eat meals with other members of the family, and if he didn’t comply with instructions he was denied access to water, and he wasn’t allowed to have relationships with his uncles and grandparents, he was just isolated from them. Instead, Arthur was physically and verbally abused, isolated, and access to food and drink controlled or restricted, and he was stripped of basic living comforts.