Arthur's 'grandmother was threatened with ARREST for trying to help'

Tragic Arthur’s ‘grandmother was threatened with ARREST for trying to help’: Police ‘told worried relative she would be breaking Covid rules if she visited six-year-old boy before he was ‘tortured and murdered by his parents’

  • Police ‘told Thomas Hughes’ mother not to see Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at house’
  • West Midlands Police worker was said to be reluctant to accept pictures of boy
  • They highlighted alleged abuse Arthur suffered, Coventry Crown Court heard
  • Arthur allegedly killed after abuse at the hands of Hughes, 29, and Emma Tustin
  • Tustin and Hughes have denied murder and multiple counts of child cruelty
  • Police told the grandmother of a boy allegedly murdered by his parents she would be arrested if she returned to the house for breaking Covid rules, a court has heard.

    An officer told Thomas Hughes’ mother and brother Daniel not to see Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, at the house in Solihull, West Midlands, the jury was told.

    The West Midlands Police worker was said to be reluctant to accept pictures highlighting the alleged abuse Arthur had suffered, Coventry Crown Court heard.

    Daniel told jurors he never heard back from the force despite the images showing bruises on the boy’s back.

    The youngster was allegedly killed after suffering devastating abuse at the hands of Hughes, 29, and his new partner Emma Tustin, 32.

    The couple subjected Arthur to systematic abuse ‘designed to terrorise’ the youngster, the court heard.

    Arthur was allegedly deprived of food, forced to stand in a hallway for 14 hours a day and poisoned with salt before being killed at his home last June.

    Tustin and Hughes deny murder and multiple counts of child cruelty.

    Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, was allegedly killed after suffering systemic abuse which matched the 'medical definition of child torture'. His father Thomas Hughes, 29, and stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, deny murder and child abuse

    Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, was allegedly killed after suffering systemic abuse which matched the ‘medical definition of child torture’. His father Thomas Hughes, 29, and stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, deny murder and child abuse 

    Tustin (pictured) and Hughes are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic cruelty 'designed to torture' the youngster

    Tustin (pictured) and Hughes are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic cruelty ‘designed to torture’ the youngster 

    Jurors were today told how Arthur’s uncle and paternal grandmother raised concerns with social services and police in April 2020 after finding the bruises.

    She took photographs of the injuries to the boy’s back before telling social services she was ‘concerned’ for her grandson.

    But the secondary school teacher said in evidence: ‘They did not want to see them. I did offer but they did not want to see them.’

    Mrs Hughes claimed Arthur confided to her how Tustin had also banged his head against a wall and called him a ‘horrible little brat’.

    Daniel claimed he also sent photos of the youngster’s bruises to police after trying to visit Tustin’s home with other relatives, but never heard back.

    He said: ‘I went on the West Midlands Police webchat to enquire as to what I could do for the safety of my nephew.

    ‘I had a webchat with an operative. He gave me a case number and within ten minutes a private number called me.

    ‘A police officer identified himself, who said he had been around to the address and spoke with Miss Tustin and Tom. We were advised if we were to return to the address we would be arrested.

    ‘I said I had photos of Arthur’s injuries and I didn’t believe that if he had seen those injuries, he would be happy that he was okay.

    ‘He reluctantly received the photos and said he would speak to his sergeant and get back to me. He never did.’

    Arthur collapsed with 'unsurvivable brain injuries' on Tuesday, June 16, and died the following day at Birmingham children's hospital

    Arthur collapsed with ‘unsurvivable brain injuries’ on Tuesday, June 16, and died the following day at Birmingham children’s hospital 

    The court also heard the ‘bullying’ father told a doctor to say ‘sorry’ to his boy before his life support was switched off.

    Hughes sobbed ‘it’s all my fault’ after being informed no more could be done for Arthur, the jury was told.

    The trial in Coventry heard a policeman describe the moment a consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital informed Hughes over the telephone that further treatment for Arthur would be futile.

    PC Cameron Bennett told jurors: ‘He was very upset. He said ”it’s all my fault, it’s all my fault”.

    ‘He asked the consultant to apologise to Arthur on his behalf to tell him that he was sorry.’

    Prosecutors allege Arthur was subjected to months of cruelty by Hughes and Tustin which matched the ‘medical definition of child torture’.

    The boy died from ‘unsurvivable brain injuries’ hours after allegedly being attacked by Tustin on June 16.

    PC Bennett, who was monitoring Hughes after he was initially arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm, claimed Hughes admitted ‘clipping’ Arthur to the back of his legs and said: ‘Then I spend an hour sitting in the shower crying about it.’

    Hughes was said to have added: ‘He tested me last night – I gave him a smack on the legs.’

    Hughes (left) is accused of forcing his son to endure 'physical and psychological' abuse in the weeks before his death

    Hughes (left) is accused of forcing his son to endure ‘physical and psychological’ abuse in the weeks before his death

    Coventry Crown Court heard when Hughes was arrested and held in custody he began to ‘deliberately’ hit his head more than 200 times against the cell wall.

    CCTV also showed Hughes motionless and facing the wall of his cell for 30 minutes before hitting his head.

    In his first interview with police officers, just hours after Arthur had died, Hughes told how he had struck his son for ‘lashing out’.

    He said: ‘I almost felt the more I clipped him the more he would try and push the boundaries and get more aggressive.

    ‘It became almost a tale of two egos. Like his dad’s ego that Arthur should be showing respect to the adults in the house.

    ‘And Arthur’s ego of ”what boundaries can I push because I’ve never had these boundaries before”.

    ‘It comes across as two egos that have clashed. And unfortunately this is the outcome.’

    Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured above with his father), six, was found with dozens of bruises from his head to his feet, post-mortem examinations showed

    Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured above with his father), six, was found with dozens of bruises from his head to his feet, post-mortem examinations showed 

    Arthur had been in the full-time care of Hughes after Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow was accused of killing her new partner, Gary Cunningham, in February 2019.

    Hughes then fell ‘hook, line and sinker’ for Tustin, jurors were told, and moved into her home when the country entered lockdown in March 2020.

    In his police interview, Hughes said Arthur ‘struggled’ with his mother being in jail and the impact of lockdown.

    He said: ‘Because Arthur was still experiencing these behaviour issues because of lockdown he took the brunt of my frustration.

    ‘He would get a smack more than he should. I think that was because I was frustrated.

    ‘As horrible as it sounds, I couldn’t hit my partner because she’s a woman. I couldn’t lay a finger on her or her children.

    ‘So Arthur took the brunt of my frustrations unfairly.’ Hughes admitted giving Arthur a ‘little clip’ or a ‘tap to the head’, but added: ‘I don’t feel like I’m a bad dad.’

    Prosecutors allege Tustin murdered the youngster when she was home alone with him, and Hughes ‘intentionally encouraged’ the killing.

    In a 999 call made 12 minutes after Arthur was found unresponsive, Tustin claimed his head injuries were self-inflicted. She claimed he had ‘banged his head while on the floor on all fours’.

    Arthur was said to have spent more than 14 hours ‘segregated and isolated’ in a hallway and made to sleep on a living room floor.

    Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow (pictured), 26, was previously caged for 18 years after she knifed boyfriend Gary Cunningham 12 times in a drunken rage at their home

    Pictured: Gary Cunningham

    Arthur’s natural mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow (left), 26, was previously caged for 18 years after she knifed boyfriend Gary Cunningham (right) 12 times in a drunken rage at their home

    It is also alleged he was deprived of food and drink. Jurors heard text messages between Hughes and Tustin talking of alleged abuse.

    Hughes threatened to ‘take his jaw off his shoulders’ and told Tustin: ‘Just gag him or something. Tie some rope around his mouth with a sock in it or something.’

    Under questioning, Hughes told police: ‘I’m sure when you go through my phone, you’ll find things from me that I say to Emma: ‘just whack him, just do this, do that’.

    ‘Emma every time said ‘no, he’s not my child’, she refused to do it.’ He added: ‘She never put a finger on him. To the best of my knowledge, anyway.’

    Hughes said he ‘slapped’ and ‘whacked’ Arthur for calling Tustin a ‘fat, ugly b****’ but denied ‘losing control’.

    Neighbour Mary-Anne Smith told the jury she heard ‘roaring’ through the walls of their semi-detached homes.

    She said that she had heard a man’s voice telling someone to ‘face the wall – don’t move’.

    She said: ‘To be honest, I didn’t really take a lot of notice of what was said. I just heard a lot of roaring. A lot of swearing, and whatever.

    ‘It wasn’t anything concerning. Nothing where anyone was being harmed. [It was] things you hear from every household, to be honest with you. I wasn’t concerned.’

    Describing a meeting with Hughes two weeks before Arthur was allegedly murdered, Miss Smith said: ‘I said ”you okay?”.

    ‘He said ”if you hear my son saying please don’t kill me, he’s got issues, he suffers from ADHD or autism”. I said ”don’t worry to be honest I didn’t hear anything”.’

    The court heard how one witness claimed Arthur was ‘too weak’ to even hold a glass of water to his mouth.

    They also said his ‘clothes looked dirty, his lips cracked, he could barely open his mouth to speak, his hair was dirty, his nails were dirty and he looked malnourished, gaunt and worn-out.’

    Earlier in the trial, a medical expert said he believed Arthur was shaken and slammed with ‘very severe’ force.

    Consultant neuropathologist Daniel Du Plessis said the chances of Arthur causing himself fatal head injuries were ‘inconceivable’.

    Opening the trial, Jonas Hankin, QC, told jurors: ‘Both defendants participated in a campaign of cruelty intended to cause Arthur significant harm and suffering.

    ‘Violence and intimidation, both physical and verbal, were routine.

    ‘Arthur’s visible injuries, his miserable physical condition and obvious despair provided each defendant with a daily reminder of the lengths to which the other would go to cause him harm.’

    The trial continues.

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