Arthur Labinjo-Hughes ‘knew his dad was going to kill him’on November 30, 2021 at 3:41 pm

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Thomas Hughes and partner Emma Tustin are accused of murdering his son Arthur Labinjo-Hughes last June.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

Image source, Family handout

A six-year-old boy was fearful his father would kill him months before his death, a court has heard.

Thomas Hughes and partner Emma Tustin are on trial accused of murdering his son Arthur Labinjo-Hughes last June.

In a closing speech at Coventry Crown Court, Ms Tustin’s defence said the boy was routinely assaulted by Mr Hughes at their Solihull home and had told others his “dad was going to kill him”.

Both of the accused, who deny murder, also face child cruelty allegations.

Court sketch of Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes

Image source, Helen Tipper

Arthur died after sustaining an “unsurvivable” head injury on 16 June 2020 while in the sole care of Ms Tustin at her home on Cranmore Road in Shirley, Solihull.

Despite medical evidence suggesting there was no way Arthur could have self-inflicted his fatal injuries, Ms Tustin, 32, maintained she was not responsible.

She has pleaded guilty to two counts of child cruelty which accused her of intimidation and assaults. She denies a third count alleging she poisoned Arthur with salt-laced drinks and meals.

Representing her, Mary Prior told the court “she let that little boy suffer and she accepts that, and she will pay a heavy price for that”.

The scene

Closing her case, Ms Prior said the defendant had been painted as manipulative. She said Arthur had been struggling after his mother was jailed for murder, and was said to be anxious, clingy and experiencing nightmares.

Ms Prior added Mr Hughes, 29, ignored advice from doctors and Arthur’s school not to punish him and to treat him with kindness and understanding but he did not share this advice with Ms Tustin.

Since he was five – before Mr Hughes and Ms Tustin struck up a relationship – Arthur had expressed concerns his father was going to kill him, Ms Prior told the court. She said the boy had expressed this to his wider family, his doctor and his school “for well over a year and nobody listened”.

The court previously heard Mr Hughes made a number of threats towards his son, including to “put him six feet under”, and had also sent Ms Tustin messages such as “just end him”.

Although he was not present for the alleged fatal assault on Arthur, prosecutors argue Mr Hughes is equally culpable as he “encouraged” violence against his son, as well as dealing out beatings himself.

Mr Hughes faces the same child cruelty counts as his co-defendant. Despite his not-guilty pleas, his counsel said he was “not suggesting for a second he’s anything other than guilty” for the counts relating to intimidation and assault.

The trial continues.

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