A grandmother reported bruises to social services about her six-year old grandson, but was not asked for photos two months prior to his murder by his father and stepmother.  

Arthur Labinjo Hughes (6 years old) was allegedly killed after being subject to systemic abuse. This included being starved, made to stand for 14 hour a day, and poisoned by salt before being attacked.

His father Thomas Hughes, 29 and his stepmother Emma Tustin 32, both deny the murder of Arthur at their Solihull, West Midlands home in June 2020. They also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child cruelty.

Today’s trial at Coventry Crown Court heard how Arthur’s grandmother Joanne Hughes noticed bruises around the boy’s shoulders when she visited the family home in March and reported it immediately to social services – just two weeks before he succumbed to fatal brain injuries.

The trial heard that Arthur’s welfare had been a concern of teachers, but social services said they had no concerns.  

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, was allegedly killed after suffering systemic abuse which matched the 'medical definition of child torture'. His father Thomas Hughes, 29, and stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, deny murder and child abuse

Arthur Labinjo Hughes (6 years old) was allegedly murdered following a systemic abuse that met the’medical definitions of child torture’. His stepfather Thomas Hughes, 29 and his stepmother Emma Tustin 32, both deny murder and child cruelty. 

Tustin (pictured) and Hughes are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic cruelty 'designed to torture' the youngster

Hughes and Tustin (pictured), are believed to have subjected Arthur ‘designed to torture’ to systematic cruelty. 

Mrs Hughes shared with her how Arthur confided to him that Tustin had also banged on his head and called him an ‘horrible little brat.’

She took photos of the injuries on the boy’s shoulders, before telling social workers that she was ‘concerned for her grandson’.

Jurors were told that the secondary school teacher said that they didn’t want to see them. They refused to see me, but I did offer.

“They asked me if Arthur would be interested in our house, and I replied “of course”. I asked them several questions to clarify certain points, and they replied that they would get back with me.

“They asked me if I wanted anonymity, to which I replied no, and they promised to get back to you.

“I asked if I would like to know the outcome, and was told “yes”. I asked the same question [the following day]I was told “no” because you were a grandparent.

Mrs Hughes described how Arthur’s Liverpool FC FC top was lifted by her to find the bruising. This happened shortly after he complained about being assaulted and beaten by Tustin.

She said that Arthur was playing with his neighbor next door, and she was in the garden. He held his head.

“Have you ever bumped your head?” he asked. He said to him, “That’s Emma’s place and she grabbed me and pushed mine up the stairs.”

“I asked him to repeat it. He said that she called me a horrible little brat. She pushed his head and he bumped it up on the stairs.

Arthur collapsed with 'unsurvivable brain injuries' on Tuesday, June 16, and died the following day at Birmingham children's hospital

Arthur died from ‘unsurvivable brain injury’ on Tuesday, June 16th. 

Hughes claimed that Tustin had not injured Arthur and that her three-year old son had attacked Arthur with an umbrella. Hughes denied Hughes’ claim.

She gave evidence and said that she did not accept the explanation. She asked her son to leave Arthur with Christopher and her husband.

She said that he said “no”, he was her son. He will be taken care of fine, no one is going hurt him’.

“I said, “That’s fine, but if that’s your last answer I will phone social service.”

Prosecutors claim that Arthur was subject to months of cruelty by Hughes, Tustin, which matches the’medical definitions of child torture’.

Both men are alleged to have neglected Arthur and abused him, even poisoning him with salt.

The court heard that Arthur spent hours’segregated, isolated’ in a hallway of Tustin’s home and was forced to sleep on a living-room floor.

Hughes and Arthur lived in an Annex at Mrs Hughes’s before they moved to the address during pandemic lockdown.

After Hughes began a relationship online in late 2019, Tustin, a mother-of-2, started visiting Tustin more often.

Hughes (left) is accused of forcing his son to endure 'physical and psychological' abuse in the weeks before his death

Hughes (left), is accused of forcing his son to suffer ‘physical and mental’ abuse in the weeks leading up to his death.

Mrs Hughes told jurors that she once saw Tustin bring over the pink chair, which her son called the ‘naughty’ chair.

She told jurors she found a piece in the annex with the title ‘chair rules’ after alerting social service on April 16, 2020.

It reads: “rude towards mummy bear/dad — one hour each”, ‘poor attitude – 20 mins’, and ‘naughty attitude – 40 mins’.

The document was displayed to jurors on screen and listed ‘additional times’ for crying on a chair.

Mary Prior, Tustin’s barrister, QC said that her client had used a pink chair with her children and referred to it as a “thinking chair”.

Mrs Hughes stated that she considered the use of the chair ‘cruel’.

Arthur fell on Tuesday, June 16, and died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital the next day.

Prosecutors claim that Tustin killed the youngster, and that Hughes ‘intentionally encouraged the killing.

Mrs Hughes stated that she saw Arthur’s performance decline in 2020 and referred to Arthur as a happy child, a joy, before then. She stated that her dislike of Tustin grew.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured above with his father), six, was found with dozens of bruises from his head to his feet, post-mortem examinations showed

Arthur Labinjo Hughes (pictured above with his father), six years old, was found with dozens bruises from his head down to his feet. Post-mortem examinations revealed that he had suffered multiple injuries. 

The jury was informed this week that Arthur’s teachers were told by social services that they had ‘no concerns about his well-being’.

Michelle Hull is a safeguarding coordinator at Dickens Heath Primary School. She said that she was alerted by Mrs Hughes to a social services referral.

Ms Hull described to the court what social services said to her when she made inquiries about the referral. They were happy with the family relationship.

She said that Arthur’s grandmother had told her by social services that she was not allowed to share information with her. [parental]Consent hadn’t been given.”

Tustin claimed that Arthur’s head injuries were self-inflicted in a 999 call 12 minutes after Arthur was discovered unresponsive. She claimed that he had bludgeoned his head on the floor, on all fours.

Tustin pleaded guilty only to one count for child cruelty. However, he denies additional charges. Hughes denies all charges.

Jurors heard text messages between Hughes, Tustin discussing alleged abuse.

Hughes threatened to ‘take off his jaws’ and told Tustin, “Just gag him or something.” Attach a rope to Hughes’ mouth and wrap a sock around it.

Jonas Hankin QC, opened the trial and stated that both defendants were involved in a campaign for cruelty to cause Arthur significant suffering and harm.

‘Violence was a common form of intimidation, verbal and physically.

“Arthur’s visible injuries and his deplorable physical condition provided each defendant with a daily reminder about the extent to which the other would go in order to cause him harm.”

The trial continues.