Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, who is serving a jail term for killing her boyfriend, described her six-year-old son as “the light of my life” and “best friend”
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’s mum and gran have paid heartbreaking tributes to the football-mad youngster who was killed by his dad and stepmum.
Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, who is serving a jail term for killing her boyfriend, described her son as “the light of my life” and “best friend”.
In a statement from her prison cell she wrote: “The details of Arthur’s case are harrowing and incomparable.
“From the moment Arthur was born he filled my life with joy. He was always smiling and had the most inquisitive little mind.
“Arthur was the light of my life. He wasn’t just my only child, he was my best friend.
“Never did I imagine he would be taken from this world so early in his life.
“If Arthur could ask for one final thing it would be that he is remembered for his superpower.
“That will always be what I remember him for. Arthur’s superpower was his smile.”
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”.
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 gran Madeleine Halcrow said: “Arthur was my sunny delight. He was always happy, smiling, loving, caring.”
She accused Thomas Hughes and Emma Tustin of getting a “perverse” pleasure out of torturing him.
Madeleine, a nurse from Birmingham, described them as “cold, calculating, systematic torturers of a defenceless little boy”.
She added: “They’re wicked, evil, especially doing that to your own child, who you’ve got a duty of care to protect.
“I think they enjoyed what they did, they must have got a perverse kick out of it.
“I was absolutely heart-broken watching the clips. It’s unfathomable, it really is.
“I was inconsolable, to see a child that ill and what they were doing to him, tormenting him, abusing him.
“If you see a parent hitting a child in the street, you would go across and say, ‘What do you think you are doing?’
“You wouldn’t do it systematically to your own child.
Recalling Arthur’s death, Madeleine said: “I got a phone call from Tom’s eldest brother to say he was at the Children’s Hospital.
“I went into intensive care and … saw Arthur. I knew at the time he’d sustained a massive head injury.
“I could see the tubes coming out of his brain, so I spoke to the consultant and asked if he’d got a shunt put in.
“They said, ‘Yes, he’s got three shunts but the pressure is still rising.’
I knew then that Arthur wasn’t going to make it.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.