Social services failed notice bruises on six-year-old boy, who was later allegedly murdered by his stepmother and father. However, they were clearly visible in photos taken by his grandmother, a trial that took place today. 

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 non guilty to multiple charges of child cruelty. 

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, six, was allegedly murdered after he suffered systemic abuse that matched the medical definition of child cruelty’. His father Thomas Hughes (29), and stepmother Emma Tustin (32) deny murdering and child abuse. 

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. 

Today’s trial heard how a social worker who was sent to Arthur’s home two years before his death recorded that he had ‘no safeguarding concern’.

Joanne Hughes, Joanne’s paternal grandmother, made a call on April 16th to Solihull council to report bruises on her grandson’s shoulders. She suggested that Tustin could be to blame.

Jayne Kavanagh, a Social Worker, and a Support Worker were dispatched to Arthur’s house the next day to assess if he was at risk and needed intervention.

Mrs Kavanagh testified at Coventry Crown Court and said that she could not see any bruising other the ‘faint’ yellow mark in Arthur’s back.

She said that she was shocked to discover Mrs Hughes’ photos of Arthur with blue bruises on his shoulder blades.

Ms. Kavanagh answered, “No,” when asked if she could explain why she couldn’t spot bruises which were obvious a day prior.

She said, “I was shocked and in disbelief these photos could have possibly been taken the previous day and my colleague and me hadn’t seen anything that day.”

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

Both are accused of having neglected and abused Arthur, poisoning him with salt.

The court heard that Arthur was’segregated’ and ‘isolated’ for hours at Tustin’s home in Cranmore Road in Shirley. He was then made to sleep on a living-room floor.

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

Arthur succumbed to ‘unsurvivable’ brain injuries on Tuesday, June 16, and was pronounced dead at Birmingham Children’s Hospital the next day. 

Angela Scarlett–Coppage, Angela Kavanagh’s support worker and Ms Kavanagh went to the home to assess whether any formal intervention was needed following Joanne Hughes’s concerns.

The court heard Hughes asked to meet in a parking lot at a local Screwfix store, before being told that the visit must take places at Hughes’s home.

Mrs Kavanagh, who was giving evidence, said that Arthur was playing outside when she arrived at her address and that Arthur seemed ‘clean’ and a’very happy’ youngster.

After speaking with both defendants, she stated that the view was that it was happy family and that everyone was getting along.

‘It was said by myself that Emma was the’momma bear,’ while Thomas was the ‘dadda Bear’.

Mrs Kavanagh asked them how happy and secure they felt on a scale ranging from the floor to ceiling. 

She stated, “The ceiling is where you feel the most secure and happy. The floor makes you feel very unsafe and unhappy.”

Jurors were told by the social workers that they had decided not to refer the case for a full evaluation of social services.

They offered to connect a support worker under the Early Help scheme, but nothing happened.

Mrs Kavanagh said that Thomas stated he wanted to give it some thought because it would mean that professionals would be involved.

“My colleague Angela, I believe contacted Thomas one week after the visit…and said that he had changed his mind and didn’t feel like he needed that much work.

Mrs Kavanagh stated that she first saw Mrs Hughes’ bruise photos a week after her initial visit.

She said, “I was really confused.” I was shocked that these photos had been taken just a day before.

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

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

When asked if she had taken any further steps to ensure Arthur’s safety, Mrs Kavanagh answered: “No.”

According to Mrs Kavanagh, Mrs Hughes said that she was disappointed with the results of the investigation and was still worried about her grandson.

The jury heard earlier in the trial how social services informed Arthur’s teachers they had “no concerns” about his well being.

Michelle Hull, a teacher and safeguarding lead at Dickens Heath Primary School, stated that she was alerted by Mrs Hughes.

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

She also stated that Arthur’s grandmother was not allowed to see her information by social services. [parental]Consent hadn’t been given.”

After Olivia LabinjoHalcrow was accused in February 2019 of killing Gary Cunningham, Arthur was in Hughes’ full-time custody.

Jurors were told Hughes then accepted Tustin’s offer and moved into Hughes’ Cranmore Road home after the country entered lockdown on March 2020.

A touching note was left among the floral tributes to six-year-old Arthur at his former home

A note of condolence was left with Arthur, a six-year-old boy, among the floral tributes at his former residence. 

Prosecutors allege that Tustin murdered the youngster, while she was home alone with Hughes, and that Hughes intentionally encouraged’ his murder.

Tustin claimed that Arthur’s injuries to his head were self-inflicted, in a 999 phone call. She claimed that he had bludgeoned his head while lying on his back on all fours.

Tustin has pleaded guilty on one count of child cruelty, but denies additional charges for the same offense. Hughes denies all charges.

Jurors were shown text messages between Hughes, Tustin and discussing alleged abuse.

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

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

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

“Arthur’s obvious injuries, his poor physical condition, and apparent despair served as a reminder to each defendant of the extremes that the other would go to to cause him harm.

The trial continues.