An accused woman of killing her 6-year-old stepson by poisoning him in salt, according to a brutal “campaign for cruelty”, told a jury that she was intimidated by the father of his child. 

Emma Tustin (32 years old) said that Thomas Hughes’ behavior in the days before Arthur Labinjo–Hughes’ death from head injuries caused by fatal head injury, made her’scared. 

According to the allegations, they made the boy suffer’systematic and cruel behavior’. They even poisoned him, forcing him to sit on a step in a corridor for fourteen hours each day, as well as making him stand up.

Prosecutors contend that the abuse was within the medical definition of child torturing. 

Hughes and Tustin denied murdering and numerous counts of child cruelty.

Emma Tustin (pictured) and Hughes are said to have subjected Arthur (right) to systematic cruelty 'designed to torture' the boy, 6. They deny murder and multiple child cruelty charges

Football mad Arthur collapsed with 'unsurvivable brain injuries' on Tuesday, June 16, and died the following day

Emma Tustin (pictured), and Hughes were alleged to have used systematic cruelty to torture Arthur, right. They denied murder and numerous child cruelty accusations

According to the claim, Arthur was made to lie on the floor after being moved into Tustin’s home by the pandemic lockdown in March. 

While in Tustin’s custody, he succumbed to ‘unsurvivable cerebral injuries’ in June 2020. 

In evidence, the mother of two told jurors that Hughes “constantly” smack Arthur. She also said she witnessed him headbutt Arthur and pin him against the door. 

Tustin said that Hughes threatened her with reporting her to the social services when she confronted him about the abuse. 

Tustin described the environment in her council home near Solihull, West Midlands. She said, “There was shouting and attitude, then there was violence, that was something that Tom did to Arthur.” 

It was not something I wanted to do, and it wasn’t what I needed. Truth be told, I didn’t want to be alive.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, was allegedly killed after suffering systemic abuse which matched the 'medical definition of child torture' a court has been told

Arthur Labinjo Hughes (6 years old) was accused of being killed by systemic abuse, which was consistent with the medical definition of child cruelty, as a court was told

It started in April, it was the smacking of the legs. It got so bad in May. This was its worst ever. 

“I told him that I didn’t agree with the idea and it was not the right way to go. He advised me to take care of my business.

“I told him that I would report him to the social services. He stated to me that Arthur would lie to him and social workers would seize my kids. Because of my mental illness, he also said they would inform them that I was in unstable. 

“I was afraid. This scared me because I did not want to lose my children. 

“I did not want the social services to assume that I was incapable of looking after my children. They thought I was going to lose them. He did what he was doing. 

After his mother Olivia LabinjoHalcrow, Arthur was taken into full-time custody by Hughes. In February 2019, Gary Cunningham, her boyfriend, was accused of having killed Arthur. 

Hughes and Tustin met on the internet and Hughes moved in with Arthur during lockdown. 

Arthur was allegedly subjected to violence and intimidation in the context of ‘brutal controlling conditions’. 

Tustin stated that Hughes had rammed Arthur through the front door. He then gave Arthur a limp leg, and then stood on Arthur’s stomach. 

She recalled one incident: “Arthur was shouting and Tom shouted at Tom. He said “if you don’t shut your f****** mouth I’m going to throw you out the window”. 

Arthur stated that “no daddy, no window” was his motto. 

Tustin was confronted over text messages she sent to Hughes where she called Arthur ‘Satan’, a ‘nagging little s***’, and other ‘unpleasant names’. 

She told the jury at Coventry Crown Court: ‘I would tell him to shut up and call him a f***** liar. However, the things that I sent in texts were very offensive. 

Tustin answered a question about why she responded with a smiling emoticon to Hughes’ photo of a Taser pistol, captioned ‘gonna throw him’. I just felt sick.’ 

Hughes warned Tustin that he would ‘take his jaw from his shoulders’ in one message. Attach a rope to Hughes’ mouth and wrap a socks around it. 

They were not followed. 

Arthur died from brain damage after being poisoned by salt. 

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

Arthur’s six-year old son Arthur received a heartfelt note in the floral tributes.

A specialist suggested that the patient was fed at least 34 grams (equivalent to six teaspoons) of salt. Hospital readings were therefore ‘off scale’. 

The Jurors were shown footage of Tustin with a salt bottle, taken the day before Arthur fell. 

Tustin gave evidence that she frequently used salt to combat recurring infections of the waterways. 

She said that she didn’t put salt in Arthur’s food when she was asked. “I used quite a bit of salt every night in my shower, so I needed it. 

“I was always sure to have salt on hand. 

‘I had no idea about salt poisoning, until I was arrested. It was also on the indictment. It was a mystery to me, and it still puzzles me. 

The court was told that Tustin has 4 children and 3 men. He denied abusing Arthur, but admits to ‘giving up on’ him. 

According to her, the couple became friends straight away when they first met in August 2019. She also said she loves him and still believes in him. 

Tustin noted that she was depressed, stressed out and tired. 

‘I still loved [Arthur]But I could not cope. 

I asked Tom to return him to his mother’s house several times, but he declined. The nastiness and the behavior were too much for me. I was unable to handle the rapid decline in my health. 

According to Hughes, despite his inability to go to work under lockdown, Hughes was going ‘disappear’ leaving Tustin with Arthur alone. 

She stated, “I needed to take a breather.” He needed to be alone. However, he declined to do so and claimed that Arthur was too ashamed for him. He wouldn’t even take Arthur along. 

Tustin stated that he felt the need to run out of his house, and then never return. It felt as if I’d fallen into a trap similar to those I experienced in previous relationships. It made me feel ashamed to be back in that situation. 

A court heard Arthur (pictured with Hughes) was forced to eat salt before he was killed

Arthur, pictured here with Hughes, was told by a court that salt was required of him before his death. 

Tustin stated that Hughes became an ‘other person’ after she got engaged to her on New Years Eve 2019. 

Tustin said: ‘He called me a f***ing slag. He said I was disgusting. “He said that I was an embarrassment and that he would have another one. 

‘I felt sad. It felt as if I were worth nothing. 

She said, “He kicked the living room door off its hinges. It was empty. There were no screws on the floor. 

“He held out his hands to my face and shouted into mine. 

Tustin reported that Arthur had spent the most part of the day alone, by May’s end. 

The woman admitted that she was unable to imagine his feelings when she looked back on the evidence. 

He was looking either at the ground or at the door. Little things such as putting food in his trainers would be a common occurrence. He seemed to want attention. 

“He simply wanted to have a conversation with someone. Arthur had lost my faith at this point. He didn’t get the attention he deserved. Tom didn’t want to come to me, even though I had made the rules. 

It just continued, progressed. He got more angry. It was hard to understand why he became so mad. I was frustrated and angry at the poor child. 

“He didn’t have anyone to talk to, and even when someone did speak to him it was abuse. It is impossible for me to do anything about it. 

One witness testified that Arthur couldn’t even get a glass water in his mouth the day before he fell. 

He also claimed that his clothes were stained, his lips were cracked and his voice was strained. His hair and nails looked unkempt and his body looked tired. 

Tustin stated that Arthur’s head injuries had been self-inflicted in a call to 999 12 minutes after Arthur became unresponsive. 

She said he had banged his head when he was on all fours on the ground. 

A medical expert stated earlier in the trial that he thought Arthur had been shaken and was slammed with “very severe” force. 

Daniel Du Plessis, neuropathologist and consultant to Arthur said it was impossible for Arthur to sustain severe head injuries. 

Before Arthur died, the jury was informed that Arthur’s relatives raised concerns to social services. 

After a visit to the home, no further actions were taken. 

Opening the trial, Mr Hankin said to jurors: “Both defendants participated a campaign for cruelty meant to cause Arthur considerable harm and suffering. 

“Violence, intimidation and threats, verbal and physical, were a routine. Arthur’s physical injuries and his obvious despair were a constant reminder for each of them about the extent to which they would do anything to harm him. 

The trial is continuing.