Evil stepmum who tortured 6-year-old boy to death jailed for 29 years for murder

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A "wicked" stepmother has been jailed for 29 for the shocking and cruel murder of her partner's six-year-old son, who suffered an "unsurvivable" brain injury on June 16, 2020.

After his death, doctors found 130 bruises on Arthur Labinjo-Hughes' skeletal body where he had suffered 93 different areas of injury.

Emma Tustin, 32, was convicted on Thursday of murdering Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, after having previously admitted two counts of child cruelty and was found guilty of two more cruelty charges, including force-feeding Arthur with salt and refusing to give him food and drink.

Thomas Hughes was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter.

The youngster was found to have been battered from head to toe and his cause of death was given as a "head trauma inflicted on him by an adult".

Medics said this was consistent with being "vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface".

Arthur also had 25 sites of bruising on his scalp, face, and neck that raised “serious concerns about non-accidental injury”.

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The 32-year-old Ms reportedly tried to take her own life while in prison by taking an overdose and attempting to hang herself.

She also refused to attend the sentencing, being in the building, but declining to go into the courtroom.

After the murder Tustin "dressed the scene" to make it look like the boy had inflicted his own shocking injuries, claiming he "headbutted the floor on all fours".

Meanwhile, Arthur's dad Thomas Hughes, 29, was found guilty of manslaughter, as well as two counts of child cruelty, including forcing the poor lad to stand in isolation.

During the six-week trial, the court heard how Arthur "knew he was going to die" for more than a year but "nobody listened to him – not the school, not the GP, not the officers, not his family".

Jurors were forced to listen to harrowing 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."

His maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, branded the pair "wicked" and "evil" and described the couple's behaviour as "unfathomable".

The heartbroken nan said: "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."

During the sentencing she read a victim impact statement on behalf of her daughter, Arthur's mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, who is currently in prison for killing her boyfriend.

She said: "How has losing my only child Arthur affected my life? It's impossible to put into words what losing Arthur has done to me.

"It hasn't affected my life, it has destroyed my life. Arthur alone was my life, my purpose and reason for living.

"The last time I spoke to my little boy 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."

Ms Labinjo-Halcrow's statement goes on to say Arthur is yet to have a funeral yet, and she is "heartbroken" at the thought of his body being stored alone in a cold box.

She claims she has been blocked from having access to Arthur's body in order to lay him to rest

The boy's paternal grandmother, Joanne Hughes, called social services after spotting a bruise on Arthur’s shoulder, weeks before he died.

She said at the sentencing: “Arthur’s death has taken the colour from our life and turned it grey.”

“Arthur was failed by the very institutions that we as a society rely on to keep our children safe. We as a family are emphatic Arthur would be alive today if (my son) Tom had not met Emma Tustin.”

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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