A woman accused of murdering her six-year-old stepson in a brutal ‘campaign of cruelty’ isolated him in a hallway every day for a month and a half, a court has heard.

Emma Tustin (32) admitted that she segregated Arthur Labinjo and Hughes for as long as 14 hours each day. She did this in a hallway of their Solihull house in the West Midlands.

Tustin (29), and Thomas Hughes (29), allegedly made the boy suffer’systematic cruel behavior’ that was consistent with the medical definition of child abuse, according to prosecutors. 

It is claimed Arthur was poisoned with salt, ordered to sleep on the floor and ‘deprived of basic living comforts’ before suffering fatal head injuries in June last year, Coventry Crown Court heard.

Hughes (who is Arthur’s dad) and Tustin both deny the murder. Tustin admits one count of child cruelty. He denies the other three. Hughes denies all four charges of child cruelty.

In evidence, she admitted that Arthur was tortured by her mother for 14 hours each day. This happened seven times a week for six weeks.

Tustin stated that the boy, six years old, would need to be standing by the front door or sitting on a stool ‘from when he woke up until the time he goes to bed’.

Emma Tustin (pictured), 32, admitted segregating Arthur Labinjo-Hughes for up to 14 hours a day for seven days a week in a hallway in their home near Solihull, West Midlands

Emma Tustin (pictured), 32 admitted to segregating Arthur Labinjo/Hughes from her home in Solihull in the West Midlands. She did this for as long as 14 hours each day and seven days per week.

According to her, the cruelty became worse in May and was now ‘consistent and constant’.

Tustin added: ‘It wasn’t my rules but I followed those rules. Although I cannot give any reason for it, I let it happen in my house. I followed those rules.

“It’s disgusting. Although I am a parent I ought to have known better, but I was unable to figure out how I would handle that situation. 

“But I was a good observer of the rules, and he made sure to be there for me. I therefore accept this.

Arthur lived with his father Hughes full-time after Olivia Labinjo Halcrow was accused by Gary Cunningham of murdering her partner Gary Cunningham.

Hughes and Tustin had been in touch online. Arthur moved into Hughes’ home when Covid-19 was first locked down last March.

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

Arthur collapsed with ‘un-survivable brain injuries’ in June 2020 while in Tustin’s care following the alleged ‘campaign of cruelty’.

Tustin and her partner Thomas Hughes (pictured), 29, allegedly subjected Arthur to 'systematic, cruel behaviour' which met the 'definition of child torture', prosecutors said

Tustin, 29 (pictured), and Thomas Hughes, her partner, are accused of subjecting Arthur to “systematic, cruel behavior” that was consistent with child torture.

Tustin was asked about the cruelty that she had been responsible for and Tustin responded: ‘Making Arthur sit on the step or stand near the door. Also, on the occasion I cut Arthur on one side. [when I]The family made him take his lunch outside so he could eat it in the hall.

“Those were horrible things that I did.

Tustin, who called 999 just 12 minutes after Arthur became unresponsive, claimed that his head injuries had been self-inflicted. Tustin said that Arthur had hit his head hard while sitting on his back on all fours.

However, it is alleged that Tustin assaulted Arthur and killed him. Hughes was there at the supermarket at 2.30pm, June 16.

Then she told Jurors heard Arthur fall to the ground in the corridor after hearing what sounded like “you fell down the stairs” by a very loud bang. 

Tustin stated that he didn’t even see the thing so he didn’t know its name. It was a loud crack and bang.

Arthur was lying on his stomach on the flooring. He was as though he were lying on his stomach.

“I don’t know how long his arms were, but I do remember that his legs were straight. He was straight. I picked him up. It was difficult to get him up. 

“I placed my arms under his armpit, and then I placed him on the stairs. I saw a large lump in his forehead. It was very large and swollen.

“I lifted him onto the step, and thought that he was unconscious. He was still breathing when I checked his pulse. 

“His eyes began to roll. I was confused. He was constantly running around, and I wasn’t sure where to place him. “I thought that he’d knocked himself out, and that he would be back.”

Tustin had previously stated to the court She was afraid of Hughes who she claimed ‘constantly smacked Arthur’ and that she even saw him. Headbutt the child and then pin him to a closed door.

Giving evidence, the mother-of-four admitted cruelty by confining Arthur to the hallway for up to 14 hours a day for seven days a week over the course of a month and a half

In evidence, she admitted that Arthur was being held in a hallway for 14 hours each day by the mother-of-4 for seven consecutive days over the period of one and a half months.

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

Tustin told the court that he has four children and three husbands. They thought I was going to lose them. But, I ignored his actions.  

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. To be truthful, I’m not sure I want to live.

It began in April. The smacking on your legs was what it was. It got so bad in May. This was its worst ever. 

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

“I told him that I would report him to the social services. He told me that he’d tell Arthur lies and social services would remove my children from me. I had mental health problems and he said he would inform them of my instability. 

“I was scared. It stopped me from moving because it was not something I wanted to do.  

Tustin apologised over text messages she sent to Hughes where she called Arthur ‘Satan’ and a ‘nagging little s***’, the court heard.

She told the jury: ‘I would tell him to shut up and call him a f***** liar. They were disgusting, but things I had said to him in text messages.

Hughes sent one message in which he threatened to take Hughes’ jaw off of his shoulders, and Tustin was told: “Just gag him. Attach a rope to Hughes’ mouth and wrap a socks around it.

These instructions were never followed by her. 

Hughes, who is Arthur's father, and Tustin deny murder and multiple counts of child cruelty. Tustin has admitted one count of child cruelty. Pictured: Tributes left for Arthur in Solihull

Hughes, Arthur’s paternal grandfather, and Tustin are accused of murder and child cruelty. Tustin has confessed to child cruelty. Pictured: Tributes left for Arthur in Solihull

It is claimed Arthur was poisoned with salt and 'deprived of basic living comforts' before suffering fatal head injuries at Tustin's house in Solihull, West Midlands, in June last year

Arthur died in Solihull in June after being poisoned and denied basic living amenities.

The trial had heard earlier that Arthur suffered from severe poisoning due to so much salt, that doctors asked about their equipment when Arthur was hospitalized with brain injury fatalities on June 16, last year.

Experts suggested that he had been given 34g of salt, equivalent to 6 teaspoons. This led to readings in the hospital which were “off-the-scale”.

A camera clip of Tustin holding a salt-water bottle was shown to jurors the day prior to Arthur’s collapse.

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

When asked if she added salt to Arthur’s meals, she replied: “No, not at all.”

According to one witness, Arthur could not even drink water the day before his collapse.

Tustin admitted to Arthur that he was abusing him, but he also said that ‘giving up” on Arthur.  

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.

A jury had been informed that Arthur’s relatives raised concerns with the social services about two months prior. However, after an in-home visit, there was no additional action.

Jonas Hankin, QC, the prosecutor, opened the trial and stated that both defendants had participated in cruelty to cause Arthur severe harm.

“Violence, intimidation (both verbal and physical) were a routine part of daily life.

“Arthur’s apparent injuries, his deplorable physical state and evident despair gave each defendant a daily reminder about the extent to which they would do anything to inflict harm.”