A father in trial for helping his accomplice in the murder of his six-year-old son has said that he values his love and attention more than his son.
Thomas Hughes is accused of aiding and abetting his girlfriend Emma Tustin in the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
The first “happy, chubby, healthy, active” boy was allegedly abused when he and his father moved into Ms Tustin’s home last year during the first COVID lockdown.
Prosecutors claim the pair forced Arthur to stand in the hallway for 14 hours a day, gave him food containing excessive amounts of salt to poison him, withheld food and drink, kept him indoors. separated and put an end to “multiple acts of violence”. He suffered a severe brain injury that resulted in his death.
During the trial at Coventry Crown Court, Mr Hughes was accused of having an “utterly unkind, uninvolved and pathetic” parent, but he denied this, along with another claim that he had given birth to his children. Gave it “pleasure to be abused”.
Instead, the father insisted that he had been psychologically coerced and “mentally abused” by Ms Tustin.
He claimed that he did not realize how badly Arthur was suffering and that his girlfriend had been manipulated into allowing a cruel punishment system to be imposed on a six-year-old child.
At cross-examination, the defendant was asked by prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC: “What could Emma Tustin do to you worse than what you were doing to her?”
Mr Hughes replied: “Nothing – I thought it would lead to unnecessary arguments [with her],
Mr Hankin then asked: “What did Emma Tustin offer you that you are more important than your son, Mr Hughes?”
“She always assured me … she would show me love, attention,” said Mr. Hughes in response.
The prosecutor asked: “So, it was his love and attention that you valued more than the welfare of your son?”
Mr. Hughes replied: “Perhaps in the end.”
“Can you tell us that this little boy, who meant the perfect world to you, yet you changed him from a happy, chubby, healthy, active boy to an extremely sad, thin, weak, unhappy child? Look,” asked Mr. Hankin.
Mr Hughes replied: “I can’t explain it to you.”
Although not present for the alleged fatal assault, Mr Hughes of Stroud Road, Solihull, is charged with aiding in the murder, and also faces three counts of child cruelty.
MS Tustin has admitted one count of child cruelty but denies two other similar charges.
The trial continues at Coventry Crown Court, although it had to be adjourned at lunchtime on Monday as Tustin was taken to hospital in an ambulance for treatment for an unspecified health problem.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /