A TWISTED dad and stepmum have today been found guilty of killing a six-year-old boy who was poisoned and tortured to death.
Thomas Hughes, 29, and Emma Tustin, 32, waged a sick “campaign of cruelty” against Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in his tragic final months.
Arthur Labinjo_Hughes was tortured to death by dad Thomas Credit: BPM
Emma Tustin has been convicted of murder Credit: PA
The youngster was segregated for 14 hours a day and forced to sleep on the floor in a brutal struggle that matched the “medical definition of child torture”.
He was also poisoned with so much salt he was too weak to even put up a fight against his torturers' horrific abuse.
It comes as…
- A dad and stepmum have been convicted of killing a young boy who was tortured to death
- The trial heard harrowing evidence that helped snare the killer pair
- Arthur's mum paid tribute from a jail cell where she is serving time for stabbing her lover to death
- Dramatic bodycam showed Tustin crying fake tears while talking to police
- A probe has been launched after Arthur's plight was ignored by police, social services and teachers
“Wicked” Tustin was today convicted of murder while “pitiless” Hughes was found guilty of manslaughter.
The wicked couple were also found guilty of multiple counts of child cruelty after six-and-a-half hours of deliberation.
Family members wept as a minute's silence for Arthur was held at the jury's request.
Arthur's mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow paid tribute to Arthur today from her prison cell where she is serving a sentence for stabbing her lover to death.
She said: “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.”
Her mum Madeleine Halcrow added: “I think they are cold, calculating, systematic torturers of a defenceless little boy.
“They're wicked, evil. There's no word for them, especially your own child.”
Arthur's frail and skeletal body was covered with 130 bruises and he suffered 93 different areas of injury – including on his head, arms, legs, feet and torso.
Chillingly, his final months on earth were captured in harrowing audio clips and recordings made by Tustin and Hughes.
Arthur could be heard wailing in one 23-second recording “no one loves me” and “no one is going to feed me”.
Video footage also showed Arthur hours before he died waking up on the living room floor.
The emaciated youngster was said to be so frail he could barely pick up his bedding.
During a lengthy trial, jurors were told how Arthur was once “cherished by all” while living with his dad in an annexe in the garden of his paternal grandparents.
He had been placed in his dad's care after his mum was jailed for 18 years for stabbing her boyfriend to death.
But his “stable” life began to spiral when Hughes embarked on a relationship with Tustin.
Due to the national lockdown last year, the couple moved into Tustin's home in Shirley with Arthur – sparking a tsunami of abuse that ended in the boy's life cruelly being snuffed out.
Chilling footage showed Arthur on the morning he collapsed at home Credit: SWNS
The youngster had been forced to sleep on the floor Credit: SWNS
The once happy youngster became withdrawn and told harrowing stories of how Tustin would shove him down the stairs or call him disgusting names.
He also began displaying angry, deep bruises on his emaciated body.
His concerned gran Joanne Hughes called social services and offered to send them pictures of the bruising but they “didn't want to see them”.
Shockingly, child services raised “no concerns” when they eventually saw the abused boy and the police took no further action.
Just two months later in June last year, Arthur suffered an “unsurvivable brain injury”.
During his last few months, Tustin recorded more than 22 pictures and videos of Arthur in distress.
Jurors were forced to watch clips of the mum cruelly tucking into a McDonald's while Arthur was left in a hallway for 14 hours without food.
They also had to listen to shocking audio of the youngster sobbing: “Daddy's going to throw me out the window, daddy's going to throw me out the window, daddy's going to throw me out of the window.”
A picture shows horrific bruising on Arthur's shoulder Credit: PA
While Tustin's two children were lavished with affection and treated to takeaways and ice cream, Arthur was left alone in the hallway with no food or water.
He was deprived of a bed and forced to sleep on the living room floor with just a duvet despite there being plenty of beds in the house.
The youngster even became too weak to even hold a glass of water to his chapped lips.
In his closing speech, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said Tustin and Hughes carried out a “systematic course of conduct designed to terrorise, degrade, neglect and harm Arthur physically and psychologically”.
He added: “Together they denigrated and debased him, they dehumanised him.”
His dad would apply pressure to his neck using techniques learned from watching videos about police brutality in America.
He also cruelly tricked his son by pretending he was going to visit his grandparents – a place “he had felt safe” – but never made the journey.
Hughes also ripped up his beloved Birmingham City football shirt and made him wear a sweltering onesie for days during a heatwave.
Horrified witnesses told how Hughes was “rough” and “aggressive” towards Arthur and demanded he call him “sir”.
He also threatened to “rip” his six-year-old son's head off and “use it as a football” the day before he was killed.
SICK TEXT MESSAGES
Meanwhile, Arthur had grown so weak he was unable to walk up stairs and his shaking legs could barely hold the weight of his own body.
In vile text exchanges read to jurors, Hughes told Tustin to dig his son's grave and “gag him with rope and a sock”.
He also threatened to “take his c*****g jaw off his shoulders”.
Tustin meanwhile brander her stepson “Satan” and “Hitler” over hundreds of disgusting messages.
On the day Arthur collapsed, his dad had messaged: “Put him outside, put him out with the rubbish.”
Hughes was out shopping on June 16 last year in Sainsbury's for a birthday cake for Tustin when his son was attacked.
The evil stepmum beat Arthur to death then waited 13 minutes to call 999 and tell them the youngster was “barely breathing” after he “headbutted the floor”.
As the stricken boy lay dying, she took a photo of his lifeless body in the hallway and texted the “balloon lady” about her birthday.
Paramedics arrived at the home to find Arthur “lying on his back, completely lifeless, quite pale with purple lips”.
He was rushed to hospital but tragically couldn't be saved and died the next day.
POISONED WITH SALT
A cause of death was given as a “head trauma inflicted on him by an adult” consistent with being “vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface”.
Doctors found he had more than six spoons worth of salt in his system – the highest level a medic had ever seen.
The amount was so substantial, the hospital at first believed their machinery was broken.
As well as suffering 93 areas of injury, Arthur also had 25 sites of bruising on his scalp, face, and neck that raised “serious concerns about non-accidental injury”.
The youngster was also found to have 20 areas of bruising on his arms and eight on his chest and stomach.
Giving evidence, Dr Lyle told jurors: “I’m not sure that outside of obvious traumatic situations I’ve ever seen a child found dead at home with this number of injuries to the head and face.”
When quizzed by cops, Hughes admitted he had “turned into a monster” and gone “too far” in hurting his son.
He also asked a doctor to “apologise to Arthur on his behalf to tell him that he was sorry” when told nothing could be done to save the boy.
Hughes told police how he should have treated his son “like a child rather than a prisoner” and revealed how Arthur said: “I'm in danger with you”.
The dad said: “I looked back during the last few days and did start to think this is going too far.”
But during his evidence, he turned on Tustin and the evil pair blamed each other for the abuse Arthur suffered.
Hughes said he only took the blame for his partner in police interviews because she was pregnant at the time.
After she terminated their baby in custody, Hughes turned on tustin – claiming she was “gaslighting” him and used Arthur like a “rag doll”.
Tustin even went so far as to blame Arthur for his own death – claiming he “headbutted” a table and “knocked himself out”.
But jurors saw through their lies and they were both convicted today of a string of offences.
A serious case review has now been launched following the “terrible tragedy”, Solihull Council confirmed.
It can also be revealed Tustin was already known to children’s services over previous concerns of domestic violence.
And the mum had a police reprimand for battery when she was aged 14 as well as a caution for shoplifting when aged 16.
Twisted Tustin and Hughes will be sentenced on a later date.
Hughes was convicted of manslaughter Credit: PA
Arthur was happy while living in an annexe at his gran's home Credit: PA
His mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow had been jailed for stabbing her partner to death Credit: BPM
Arthur moved into Tustin's home during the national lockdown Credit: BPM
She sent audio and video of the boy's suffering
Tributes left for tragic Arthur Credit: BPM
Moment boy, 6, cries ‘no one loves me, no one is going to feed me’ before he was ‘tortured to death by dad and stepmum’