A “bullying” father and stepmother poisoned their young son with salt and murdered him before putting him through months of “brutal” abuse, a court has heard.
Thomas Hughes, 29, and his girlfriend Emma Tustin, 32, have been jointly charged with murder, six with “strange brain injuries” after their heads were “repeatedly banged against a hard surface”. Year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was charged with murder after leaving. June last year.
It is alleged that Tustin committed the fatal attack while in Arthur’s sole care, and shortly thereafter brought his mobile phone to photograph the boy as he lay dying in the hallway.
Despite her phone being on, she took 12 minutes to call 999, medics told Arthur “fell and banged his head and fell to the floor [and] banged his head another five times”, prosecutors said.
Jonas Hankin QC for the prosecution told the jurors: “You will notice his account, which includes the suggestion that Arthur hit him in the head during the incident, and you may also have noted that he said deemed necessary that Arthur treated them like s**t. – in that context, in those circumstances.”
The pair have also been charged with multiple counts of child cruelty after Arthur was forced to endure “systematic, brutal treatment” of “physical and psychological” abuse in the weeks before his death.
One witness said that the previously happy and healthy boy looked “as if broken” on the day of his death.
The same witness said that when Arthur “secretly” asked her for a glass of water while Hughes and Tustin were out of the room, “she had to hold it by Arthur’s mouth” because the child was “too weak to hold himself”.
The prosecutor told Coventry Crown Court, “His clothes looked dirty, his lips were chapped, he could barely open his mouth to speak, his hair was dirty, his nails were dirty and he was malnourished, unsightly and worn out.” – Felt beaten up.”
It is alleged that Arthur was “isolated and isolated” for “up to 14 hours a day”, often made to live next to the hallway by the front door, and prevented from eating and drinking. Was.
Mr Hankin said: “The evidence you will hear, prosecutors say, indicates that Arthur was physically and verbally abused, isolated, had controlled or restricted access to food and drink, He was deprived of basic living facilities; a bed, clothes.
“And he suffered psychological abuse — bullying, in common language.”
Mr Hankin told the jury that “Arthur was made to sleep on the living room floor” at Tustin’s home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, and that after his death, “a duvet was found in a cupboard under the stairs”.
He added: “It’s surprising, prosecutors say, there is no clear evidence of Arthur living in that house.”
Medical evidence showed that the young boy died “from head trauma inflicted on him by an adult, the most likely mechanism being that he was vigorously shaken and his head struck repeatedly against a hard surface”. .
Jurors were shown photos of Arthur in the house because he was “forced” to “stand aloof” and would be punished for unauthorized movements, including attempts to sit.
Tustin regularly took photographs and recorded audio clips and videos of Arthur being punished, and then sent them to Hughes.
In one instance the boy was shown standing near the fridge as punishment, and several audio clips of him were played over a long period of time “crying and crying”.
Tustin and Hughes exchanged messages referring to Arthur in derogatory terms, and there were “many examples of threats of violence”.
On May 6, 2020, Hughes texted Tustin saying: “Tell him not to move a muscle – put it by the fridge, put it outside or wherever, give it to him.
“Take him out with the trash.”
Prosecutors said more than 200 audio files of Arthur were recorded at “different stages of the crisis”.
In some recordings he was heard begging his “nanny” and uncles for help.
In one, he said, “Please help me, help uncle, they are not feeding me, I need to eat and drink something”.
On other occasions, Hughes texted Tustin saying, “Just finish him” and “I’ll fill him in when I get back”.
In June last year, Hughes told a neighbor: “If you hear someone say ‘don’t kill me’, ignore it, I’m not going to hurt him.”
Arthur was killed just days later on June 17, shortly before 1 p.m. – three months after his father had moved in with Tustin.
Mr Hankin said emergency services were called to the home to report that Arthur had “a self-inflicted head injury at his stepmother’s home address”, with paramedics having a “major injury” to his forehead. with.
He suffered a cardiac arrest, but medics made his heart beat and he was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Examinations revealed that Arthur had “extensive injury to all parts of his body”, and a CT scan showed hemorrhage on the brain and “damage within the brain itself, caused by a lack of oxygen and blood supply”. Was.
Mr Hankin said: “The unusual biochemical results raised concerns that Arthur had also been poisoned – with salt.”
Hughes and Tustin are also charged with child cruelty for feeding Arthur salt between June 1 and 17 last year.
The jury was also told that Arthur was in the sole care of his father when his birth mother, Olivia Labinzo, was convicted of a murder in February 2019.
In April 2020, it emerged as Children’s Social Services and police were alerted to concerns about Arthur’s care by his nanny.
The extended family had noticed bruises on Arthur’s back, and they said that Tustin “called him an ugly, terrible brat” and nodded him in the stairs.
After Children’s Services on 17 April Arthur observed, “no concerns were raised”, and when photos of the injuries were sent to the police, no further action was taken, Mr Hankin told the jury.
On the first day of trial, Tustin admitted to child cruelty by abusing Arthur on several occasions, “forcing him to stand up, isolating him in the family home, and physically or verbally intimidating him.” “.
Hughes denies a similar allegation.
Both have also been charged with two counts of child cruelty by assault on multiple occasions and withholding food and/or drink.
The pair denies the allegations and the trial continues.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /