Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 27, said details of her six-year-old boy’s abuse and death at the hands of his dad and his ex-girlfriend were “harrowing and incomparable” as she paid tribute to her “only child and best friend”
The biological mum of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, murdered by his stepmother, has shared new images of the adorable and tragic little boy in tribute to her “light of her life” son.
Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 27, said details of her six-year-old boy’s abuse and death at the hands of his dad and his ex-girlfriend were “harrowing and incomparable”.
Tustin was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment – she will have to serve a minimum of 29 years before she is eligible for parole.
Her former partner and Arthur’s father, Hughes’ was found guilty of sentenced to 21 years in jail.
Arthur’s biological mum, who was jailed for 11 years earlier this year after fatally stabbing partner Gary Cunningham at her Harborne flat in February 2019, paid tribute from her cell in a touching statement read by her own mother.
Madeleine Halcrow read her daughter’s poignant tribute, saying: “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 last thing, it would be that he was remembered for his superpower. That will always be what I remember and Arthur’s superpower was his smile.
“Talking about Arthur’s loves would not be complete without mentioning superheroes, Marvel or DC. Arthur loved them all, from Batman to Black Panther, Aqua Man to the Flash.
“He had every costume and action figure and would spend hours dressing up and pretending he had all of their superpowers.”
Labinjo-Halcrow said that, following the verdicts in the trial of Hughes and Tustin, she wanted to take the opportunity to focus on the life Arthur lived and to “celebrate the beautiful little boy I knew and loved deeply”.
Her touching tribute came after Tustin was jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years after being found guilty of murder and Hughes, guilty of manslaughter, jailed for 21 years.
Twisted Tustin was pregnant with Hughes’ baby when she violently attacked Arthur in June 2020, before undergoing an abortion at 21 weeks.
During the trial at Coventry Crown Court, it has been revealed Tustin tried to avoid justice for her sickening attack on the little boy by taking an overdose and trying to hang herself.
Mary Prior QC described her as a “high suicide risk”, saying that she had been “obliged to terminate a pregnancy “.
Today, cowardly Tustin refused to leave her jail cell to take to the dock for sentencing.
Horrifying details in court described how Arthur was segregated for 14 hours a day and forced to sleep on the floor or in the hallway.
Tragic footage also showed Arthur attempting to put away his own duvet in the dark after waking up on the floor.
Other sickening evidence described how he was weakened by salt poisoned and deprived of food and water.
He was found to have 130 injuries all over his body after being hit, slapped, kicked, punched, and beaten.
Prosecutors said the pair kept Arthur isolated in the home, starved, dehydrated and routinely beaten.
Tustin claimed Arthur’s fatal head injury was self-inflicted, possibly by throwing himself down the staircase in her hallway, where he was forced to spend “12 to 14 hours” a day, the court heard.
During his evidence, Hughes said Tustin “mentally abused” and “gaslighted” him into complying with the punishing disciplinary regime, but also admitted lying to school staff who were checking on Arthur’s progress during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Tustin accused Hughes of being violent towards his son on multiple occasions and said he once threatened to throw the boy out of the window.
“Arthur was screaming and Tom shouted at him. He said ‘if you don’t shut your f****** mouth I’m going to throw you out the window’,” she said.
“Arthur said ‘no daddy not the window’.”
Tustin’s barrister Mary Prior QC said: “He was going to die and he was going to die because Thomas Hughes was in charge of Arthur’s life and Arthur’s life consisted of nothing other than misery.”
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”.
In her victim impact statement, which she read in court ahead of the sentencing, Ms Hughes said Arthur, as a “happy, contented, thriving seven-year-old” would “be alive today” had her son not met Tustin.
The secondary school teacher added: “It is also clear that Arthur was failed by the very authorities that we, as a society, are led to believe are there to ensure the safety of everyone.”
CPS / SWNS)
An independent review is now under way into the authorities’ contact with Arthur before his death. That work will include examining other potential missed opportunities to intervene, including an anonymous call Tustin’s own stepfather John Dutton claimed in court to have made to social services, and contact with the police from Hughes’ brother about Arthur’s bruises.
The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) is set to publish a report into West Midlands Police’s contact with the case, in due course, but has said it “found no indication any individual behaved in a manner that justified disciplinary proceedings”.
As the sentencing began Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said Tustin had been brought to court for her sentencing but had “refused to come up” to the dock. Instead he addressed his remarks to Hughes and Tustin’s empty chair.
It also emerged during the hearing how Tustin twice made attempts to take her own life during the trial which jurors were previously told had been periodically delayed for “health” reasons.
Mr Justice Wall started by saying the trial had been “without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases I have had to deal with”, adding neither Hughes not Tustin had shown any remorse.
The judge said Arthur had been, at the time Tustin was introduced into his life, a “healthy, happy young boy”.
But less than three months after moving in with Tustin at the start of the first national lockdown, the little boy was left “broken” from exposure to a campaign of “acute or prolonged abuse,” he said.
Tustin was also convicted of two counts of child cruelty, including salt-poisoning and withholding food and drink from Arthur.
She had admitted two other cruelty counts, wilfully assaulting Arthur on three occasions and isolating him, including by forcing him to stand in the hallway for up to 14 hours a day as part of a draconian punishment regime.