Murdered boy, 6, was ‘joyous’ and made others feel happy, heartbroken gran says

Arthur’s dad Thomas Hughes, 29, has been handed a 21-year prison sentence after being convicted of manslaughter, while his step-mum Emma Tustin has been jailed for life

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was murdered by step-mum Emma Tustin

Murdered six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was a “joyous” boy who made other people feel happy, his heartbroken gran says.

Joanne Hughes, who said the lad was seriously failed by the authorities, added he was “the sunlight in our lives”.

Arthur’s dad Thomas Hughes, 29, has been handed a 21-year prison sentence after being convicted of manslaughter.

Hughes’ girlfriend Emma Tustin, 32, has been jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years for murdering the boy.

The judge said the pair had not shown a “shred of remorse” after subjecting the lad “to the most unimaginable suffering”.

Arthur was poisoned, tortured, starved and regularly beaten during the couple’s evil campaign.

He died after Tustin slammed his head against a wall at their home.

Emma Tustin has been convicted of murder and jailed



Thomas Hughes was handed a 21-year prison sentence after being convicted of manslaughter



She took a photo of him dying on the floor and sent it to his dad, who was not there at the time, before waiting 12 minutes to call 999.

Two months before Arthur was killed, Hughes’ mum raised concerns with officials after seeing bruising on his body.

But social workers who visited the home he shared with his dad and Tustin concluded there were no concerns.

In a victim impact statement, Mrs Hughes said she thinks Arthur would still be alive if her son had not met Tustin.

But she added: “Arthur was failed by the very authorities we are led to believe are there to ensure the safety of everyone.” The teacher added: “Arthur was the sunlight in all our lives, bringing joy, laughter and love to all of us.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was a ‘joyous’ boy, his gran said

Arthur with his natural mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow



“His death has turned the colour in our lives into a perpetual grey.

“The Arthur we knew was the model of a happy, joyous, exuberant and loving six-year-old and we will always remember him so.

“He brought laughter and happiness to those who loved him, and he reflected that love and joy back to those who treasured him.”

A review is under way into the actions of social workers, teachers and police after the boy’s family raised concerns about his welfare four times.

Previously unseen photos of Arthur have been published on behalf of his mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, showing the pair having fun together.

Arthur’s home in Solihull, Birmingham



One picture shows the little lad beaming as he carries a Paddington Bear toy in a rucksack.

The boy’s maternal gran, Madeleine Halcrow, read a statement on behalf of Arthur’s mum.

It talked about his “kind, nurturing spirit” and added: “They took him away from me. My child, my little love, defenceless, trusting and nothing but loving, was killed.

“His short life stolen and the hole left in me and those who loved Arthur will never be repaired.”

Mum-of-four Tustin, who tried to kill herself while on remand, refused to go into the dock at Coventry crown court for sentencing.

The judge Mr Justice Mark Wall said of Tustin: “You are a manipulative woman who will tell any lie to save your own skin.

“You wanted Thomas Hughes so he could provide for you and your own children, but did not want to be troubled by Arthur any longer.” The judge told Hughes his “encouragement” of his girlfriend’s abuse of his son was “chilling”.

He added: “You became infatuated with Tustin to the extent that it obliterated all love for your son.”

The judge said it is one of the most distressing cases he has dealt with.

Arthur’s gran read a moving tribute from his jailed mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow


West Midlands Police)

He added: “In the last three months of Arthur’s life he was subjected to the most unimaginable suffering at the hands of both of you. It was often spiteful and at times sadistic. You relished in making him suffer. The less human he seemed to be, the more freedom you had to abuse him.”

As well as beatings, the abuse included being made to stand on his own for most of the day and forced to sleep on a cold floor.

The dad of one of Tustin’s children has described her as a “black widow” who had “no maternal instinct”.

He reported her to social services over concerns for his child’s safety years before Arthur was murdered. The dad said: “She wanted children for the attention they brought her as newborns, and for the child benefit.

“But once the attention died away and she was left at home with a baby, she didn’t want to know. Social services have blood on their hands.

“If they had heeded our warnings then little Arthur might still be alive.”

Arthur and his heartbroken mum



Boris Johnson said he found it difficult to read about Arthur’s suffering.

The Prime Minister added: “We will leave no stone unturned to find out what went wrong in that appalling case.” Former children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield said very vulnerable youngsters “have continued to slip from view” despite numerous serious case reviews.

After his mum was arrested in 2019 for a fatal stab attack, Arthur went to live with his dad.

The boy’s mother was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 years in prison for killing her on-off partner in a drink-fuelled rage at her flat in Harborne, Birmingham.

Arthur, who died of a brain injury, lived with his dad and Tustin in Shirley in the West Midlands borough of Solihull when he was murdered in 2020.

Hughes and Tustin were also convicted of child cruelty.

To honour Arthur, a minute’s applause will be held during today’s match involving his beloved team Birmingham City.

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