Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, suffered more than 130 bruises at the hands of his dad Thomas Hughes and step-mum Emma Tustin, who conducted a campaign of abuse likened to ‘torture’
Little Arthur Labinjo-Hughes suffered ‘a bruise for every day of lockdown’ at the hands of his cruel dad and step-mum, a prosecutor said.
The six-year-old was murdered at his home in Solihull in June 2020, with doctors later discovering more than 130 bruises on his body.
His step-mother Emma Tustin, 32, was found guilty of murder on Thursday, while his father Thomas Hughes, 29, was found guilty of manslaughter.
During a harrowing eight-week trial, jurors at Coventry Crown Court heard how the pair had subjected the child to months of abuse, likened to ‘torture’, before his death.
According to the Daily Telegraph, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said he suffered ‘a bruise for every day of lockdown’.
He added: “Violence was a way of life for him in lockdown.”
The six-year-old died after suffering an ‘unsurvivable brain injury’ in June last year.
Hughes, of Solihull, was accused of encouraging the killing, including by sending a text message to Tustin 18 hours before the fatal assault telling her “just end him”.
The pair force-fed the child salt-laced meals and kept him isolated, starved, dehydrated and routinely beaten.
The usually “chubby, happy” and “always smiley” boy moved into Tustin’s home at the start of the first national lockdown in March 2020, but one witness described how he looked “broken” just before his death less than three months later.
Tustin had already admitted two counts of child cruelty during the trial, including carrying out three assaults on the boy and also making him sit or stand in her hallway for up to 14 hours a day as part of a behavioural regime.
She has accepted making 200 audio recordings of Arthur, often crying and moaning during these punishments, claiming she did so only to send them to Hughes in order to demonstrate the boy’s “naughty” behaviour while he was absent.
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Some of these extracts were played to the court, including one in which the boy can be heard saying “no-one loves me”, and another in which he cried “no-one’s gonna feed me”.
The sheer cruelty of the couple was played out in the courtroom over two months.
Texts between them showed their feelings towards the little boy, whose mother was previously jailed for the manslaughter of her boyfriend.
In brutal messages, Hughes told Tustin to ‘just end’ Arthur and also ‘take his jaw off’ and ‘gag’ him. He also threatened to ‘take his neck off’ and ‘dash my food off his head’.
The boy would still be alive if the Covid-19 lockdown had not happened, detectives believe.