Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: Mother releases new photos taken just months before his death

The mother of Arthur-Labinjo-Hughes has released photos showing them smiling together in the months before he was killed by his “wicked” stepmother.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: Mother releases new photos taken just months before his death
© PA Arthur Labinjo-Hughes death

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, 6, was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of his “evil” stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, who had cruelly abused, starved and poisoned him.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: Mother releases new photos taken just months before his death
© Provided by Evening Standard (PA)

On Friday, Tustin was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 29 years at Coventry Crown Court. Her partner Thomas Hughes, Arthur’s father, was jailed for 21 years after being convicted of manslaughter after encouraging the “evil” killing.

Arthur’s mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 29, has now released images of her son in the months leading up to his death.

One image shows him grinning in his mother’s arms as he holds a marshmallow on a stick.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: Mother releases new photos taken just months before his death
© Provided by Evening Standard (PA)

In another, he is strolling along a pavement and smiling at the camera with a build-a-bear bag over his shoulders.

In a statement Ms Labinjo-Halcrow, who is serving 11 years in prison for killing her partner, spoke of her heartbreak at the loss of her son.

She said: “He was just a child, he had no-one to talk to, no one to ask for help when he was scared and needed protecting the most.”

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: Mother releases new photos taken just months before his death
© Provided by Evening Standard (PA)

“My son’s bright blue, effervescent eyes lost their sparkle and they weren’t smiling anymore. They took his sparkle and his naivety from him and then they took him from this world.

“A child, my child, my little love defenceless, trusting and nothing but loving was killed. His short life was stolen – he will never see another Christmas, another birthday.”

Recalling the last time she spoke to Arthur, she added: ‘It was the most excited I had ever heard him. He knew he was going to see me soon. He asked how many packets of Drumstick Squashies I had saved him. I told him he could have as many packets as he wanted as long as he ate his sausage, mash and peas first.

“He giggled his usual mischievous giggle and said ‘OK mum, I promise’.

“He never got his Drumstick Squashies and I never got to remind him just how beautiful he was or how much he was loved.”

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: Mother releases new photos taken just months before his death
© Provided by Evening Standard (PA)

During the course of the eight-week trial, it emerged that Arthur had been visited by social workers just two months before his death. His grandmother, Joanne Hughes, had raised concerns over his welfare with authorities, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

The judge called Arthur’s father’s “encouragement” of his girlfriend’s actions “chilling”.

He added: “You were Arthur’s father, in a position of trust and bore primary responsibility for protecting him.

“He was extremely vulnerable and you lied to his school in the last days of Arthur’s life to protect both you and Ms Tustin.”

Ms Labinjo-Halcrow was herself jailed for stabbing her own partner to death in a drink and drug-fuelled rage in 2019, leaving her ex in sole custody of their son.

It comes as experts said Arthur’s murder should have been the top priority for local social services.

Wendy Thorogood, director of the Association of Child Protection Professionals, said the murder of Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises, was a “society responsibility”.

She told Times Radio: “He should (have been at the top of social services’ priority list) and you would have expected them to actually look at his history, but unfortunately they go on what they see at that moment in time.

“I can’t comment on what they actually witnessed but you have to remember he was at the hands of quite cruel people who could manipulate him, his environment and professionals.

“I would have expected any assessment to really take account of the grandmother’s photos, I would have expected to have conversations … with Arthur, and that appears to have been missed.”

Ms Thorogood said that Arthur was not getting “additional” oversight from school and education as the incident took place during the coronavirus lockdown.

She added: “I feel they took probably the assessment he was out happy, playing, a boy being boisterous.

“I would have expected any bruises that had been shown would have actually been shared with health to actually have a view as well as to where the injury was.

“The biggest thing is to actually speak with the child and I can’t say whether or not that actually happened.

“Equally, it’s a society responsibility, in relation to his cries were so abnormal if we’d had an anonymous call from one of the neighbours that could have given them more power to do the investigation.

“He wasn’t on a child protection list, he wasn’t one of the children that you would have considered to be a priority.”

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