A MONSTER dad and stepmum have today been caged after torturing a six-year-old boy to death in a “sadistic” killing that horrified the nation.
The youngster was segregated for 14 hours a day and forced to sleep on the floor in a brutal struggle that matched the "medical definition of child torture".
He was also poisoned with so much salt he was too weak to even put up a fight against his torturers’ horrific abuse.
It comes as…
- A dad and stepmum have been convicted of killing a young boy who was tortured to death
- The trial heard harrowing evidence that helped snare the killer pair
- Arthur’s mum paid tribute from a jail cell where she is serving time for stabbing her lover to death
- Dramatic bodycam showed Tustin crying fake tears while talking to police
- A probe has been launched after Arthur’s plight was ignored by police, social services and teachers
- The moment Tustin told 999 that Arthur ‘threw himself on the floor’ was released
- A tragic timeline of Arthur’s death shows the missed chances by the authorities
- Arthur’s gran slammed his selfish killer for acting like his death ‘inconvenienced' her
- It emerged Tustin aborted a baby in custody and twice attempted suicide
“Wicked” Tustin was convicted of murder after repeatedly smashing Arthur’s head against a hard surface at the house of horrors in Shirley, West Mids.
The shameless stepmum was too cowardly to even face Arthur’s family and refused to enter the dock as she was jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years.
Arthur’s “pitiless” dad Hughes was caged for 21 years after being found guilty of manslaughter.
Jailing the pair, Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said the case was “without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing” he has ever dealt with.
He said: “This cruel and inhuman treatment of Arthur was a deliberate decision by you to brush off his cries for help as naughtiness.”
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Addressing Tustin, he continued: “You are a manipulative woman who will tell any lie, and shift the blame onto anyone, to save your own skin.”
The judge said she did not want to be “troubled” by Arthur any more and branded Hughes’ encouragement as “chilling”.
The court was told Tustin terminated a pregnancy after she was charged with Arthur’s murder.
She also attempted suicide twice during the trial and has been bullied in prison.
Arthur’s gran Joanne Hughes, who flagged his injuries to social services in the week before his death, slammed Tustin for her “complete lack of remorse” .
In a powerful victim impact statement, she said: “At no time have I heard evidence of her asking about Arthur or his condition – only her complete disdain and inconvenience of the situation.
"However, I noted several times that she thought it appropriate to bring to the attention of others Arthur's behaviour to justify her actions.
"The only pity she has shown is for herself, and not once has she apologised for Arthur's passing while in her sole care.
"It is clear from Miss Tustin's evidence we as a family will not have a definite answer or explanation as to how Arthur died. Yet another burden we will have to shoulder for our lifetime.”
Ms Hughes also said her grandson was “failed” by the authorities before his death.
She added: "As a mother and grandmother it is with profound despondency that I have failed in my sole purpose to keep my loved ones safe and ensure their life is filled only with love, happiness and contentment.
“This woeful is no longer the case for any of us. And it is with a heavy heart that we have all realised this will never be the case again.
“We as a family are emphatic that Arthur would be alive today, a happy, contented, thriving, seven year old, with the opportunity to reach his full potential during his lifetime, if Tom had not met Emma Tustin. We believe this now and forevermore."
His mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow , who is in jail for killing her boyfriend, also submitted an emotional statement where she described her final conversation with Arthur.
She told how he was “the most excited” she had ever heard him as he would be seeing her soon and wanted to know how many packets of Drumstick Squashies she had for him.
The mum added: “How has losing my only child Arthur affected my life? It’s impossible to put into words what losing Arhur has done to me.
“It hasn’t affected my life, it has destroyed my life. Arthur alone was my life, my purpose and reason for living.”
Labinjo-Halcrow also said is “heartbroken” at the thought of her boy’s body lying in a “cold box” as he has not had a funeral yet.
‘NO ONE LOVES ME’
The youngster’s family wept yesterday as the evil couple were also found guilty of multiple counts of child cruelty after six-and-a-half hours of jury deliberation.
Arthur’s frail and skeletal body was covered with 130 bruises and he suffered 93 different areas of injury – including on his head, arms, legs, feet and torso.
Even if just half of the 130 bruises on Arthur’s body were the result of abuse, it would still be a mark for every day he spent being “terrorised” during lockdown.
Chillingly, his final months on earth were captured in harrowing audio clips and recordings made by Tustin and Hughes.
Arthur could be heard wailing in one 23-second recording “no one loves me” and “no one is going to feed me”.
Video footage also showed Arthur hours before he died waking up on the living room floor.
The emaciated youngster was said to be so frail he could barely pick up his bedding.
During a lengthy trial, jurors were told how Arthur was once “cherished by all” while living with his dad in an annexe in the garden of his paternal grandparents.
He had been placed in his dad’s care after his mum was jailed for 18 years for stabbing her boyfriend to death.
But his “stable” life began to spiral when Hughes embarked on a relationship with Tustin.
Due to the national lockdown last year, the couple moved into Tustin’s home in Shirley with Arthur – sparking a tsunami of abuse that ended in the boy’s life cruelly being snuffed out.
The once happy youngster became withdrawn and told harrowing stories of how Tustin would shove him down the stairs or call him disgusting names.
He also began displaying angry, deep bruises on his emaciated body.
His concerned gran Joanne Hughes called social services and offered to send them pictures of the bruising but they “didn’t want to see them”.
Shockingly, child services raised “no concerns” when they eventually saw the abused boy and the police took no further action.
Just two months later in June last year, Arthur suffered an “unsurvivable brain injury”.
During his last few months, Tustin recorded more than 22 pictures and videos of Arthur in distress.
Jurors were forced to watch clips of the mum cruelly tucking into a McDonald’s while Arthur was left in a hallway for 14 hours without food.
They also had to listen to shocking audio of the youngster sobbing: “Daddy’s going to throw me out the window, daddy’s going to throw me out the window, daddy’s going to throw me out of the window.”
While Tustin’s two children were lavished with affection and treated to takeaways and ice cream, Arthur was left alone in the hallway with no food or water.
He was deprived of a bed and forced to sleep on the living room floor with just a duvet despite there being plenty of beds in the house.
The youngster even became too weak to even hold a glass of water to his chapped lips.
In his closing speech, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said Tustin and Hughes carried out a “systematic course of conduct designed to terrorise, degrade, neglect and harm Arthur physically and psychologically”.
He added: “Together they denigrated and debased him, they dehumanised him.”
His dad would apply pressure to his neck using techniques learned from watching videos about police brutality in America.
He also cruelly tricked his son by pretending he was going to visit his grandparents – a place “he had felt safe” – but never made the journey.
Hughes also ripped up his beloved Birmingham City football shirt and made him wear a sweltering onesie for days during a heatwave.
Horrified witnesses told how Hughes was “rough” and “aggressive” towards Arthur and demanded he call him “sir”.
He also threatened to “rip” his six-year-old son’s head off and “use it as a football” the day before he was killed.
Meanwhile, Arthur had grown so weak he was unable to walk up stairs and his shaking legs could barely hold the weight of his own body.
In vile text exchanges read to jurors, Hughes told Tustin to dig his son’s grave and “gag him with rope and a sock”.
He also threatened to “take his c*****g jaw off his shoulders”.
Tustin meanwhile brander her stepson “Satan” and “Hitler” over hundreds of disgusting messages.
On the day Arthur collapsed, his dad had messaged: “Just end him…put him outside, put him out with the rubbish.”
Hughes was out shopping on June 16 last year in Sainsbury’s for a birthday cake for Tustin when his son was attacked.
The evil stepmum beat Arthur to death then waited 13 minutes to call 999 and tell them the youngster was “barely breathing” after he “headbutted the floor”.
As the stricken boy lay dying, she took a photo of his lifeless body in the hallway and texted the “balloon lady” about her birthday.
Paramedics arrived at the home to find Arthur “lying on his back, completely lifeless, quite pale with purple lips”.
Dramatic bodycam footage showed Tustin’s crocodile tears as she spoke to officers outside her home.
The shameless mum blamed the youngster for his own injuries – claiming he “headbutted the floor on all fours”.
Tustin added: “He banged his head three or four times. Obviously then I just picked him up.
“He knocked himself unconscious. I picked him up, put him on the sofa, poured water in his mouth.”
Arthur was rushed to hospital but tragically couldn’t be saved and died the next day.
POISONED WITH SALT
A cause of death was given as a “head trauma inflicted on him by an adult” consistent with being “vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface”.
The injuries were so severe they were likened to those seen ins a high-speed car crash.
Doctors found he had more than six spoons worth of salt in his system – the highest level a medic had ever seen.
The amount was so substantial, the hospital at first believed their machinery was broken.
As well as suffering 93 areas of injury, Arthur also had 25 sites of bruising on his scalp, face, and neck that raised "serious concerns about non-accidental injury".
The youngster was also found to have 20 areas of bruising on his arms and eight on his chest and stomach.
Giving evidence, Dr Lyle told jurors: "I'm not sure that outside of obvious traumatic situations I've ever seen a child found dead at home with this number of injuries to the head and face."
When quizzed by cops, Hughes admitted he had “turned into a monster” and gone “too far” in hurting his son.
He also asked a doctor to “apologise to Arthur on his behalf to tell him that he was sorry” when told nothing could be done to save the boy.
Hughes told police how he should have treated his son “like a child rather than a prisoner” and revealed how Arthur said: “I’m in danger with you”.
The dad said: “I looked back during the last few days and did start to think this is going too far.”
But during his evidence, he turned on Tustin and the evil pair blamed each other for the abuse Arthur suffered.
Hughes said he only took the blame for his partner in police interviews because she was pregnant at the time.
After she terminated their baby in custody, Hughes turned on tustin – claiming she was “gaslighting” him and used Arthur like a “rag doll”.
Tustin even went so far as to blame Arthur for his own death – claiming he “headbutted” a table and “knocked himself out”.
But jurors saw through their lies and they were both convicted today of a string of offences.
A serious case review has now been launched following the “terrible tragedy”, Solihull Council confirmed.
It can also be revealed Tustin was already known to children's services over previous concerns of domestic violence.
And the mum had a police reprimand for battery when she was aged 14 as well as a caution for shoplifting when aged 16.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said today: “The Prime Minister found the details of this case deeply disturbing. His thoughts are with those who loved Arthur.
“No child should ever suffer in the way that he did. And it’s clear there are questions that need to be answered to get to the bottom of how this happened.”
Tustin was also convicted of two counts of child cruelty, including salt-poisoning and withholding food and drink from Arthur.
Partway through the trial, she admitted two other cruelty counts – wilfully assaulting Arthur on three occasions and isolating him.
Hughes was also convicted of the cruelty offences which Tustin had admitted – but was cleared of withholding food and drink, or of poisoning his own son with salt.
Arthur’s gran’s heartbreaking statement in full
“I write this on behalf of my family and with their authority.
“Arthur was the sunlight in all our lives, bringing joy, laughter and love to all of us. His death has turned the colour in our lives into a perpetual grey. Whilst our cherished and much loved 11-year-old granddaughter brings us joy and laughter, there is always the reminder that there should be double the joy, laughter and happiness, with the additional reminder that, as our granddaughter grows and blossoms into a young lady, Arthur is always missing in physical form, but never forgotten and remains constantly in our thoughts with the knowledge that any special moments in our lives will be forever tainted with forlorn contemplations.
“Throughout this trial I have heard of Arthur's challenging and disruptive behaviour. We, as a family, want it recorded that the Arthur we knew was the model of a happy, joyous, exuberant and loving six-year-old and we will always remember him so. He bought laughter and happiness to those who loved him and he reflected that love and joy back to those who treasured him.
“Arthur's death has had a devastating impact on all our lives, not least my 11-year-old granddaughter who, when told of Arthur's death had her innocent view of the world shattered and now knows the stark and harsh reality of life, despite my eldest son and his partner striving avidly to avoid this so early in her life.
“My two younger sons, who are young men were, until Arthur's devastating death, embarking on their own life journey, have now stood still in life, with thoughts or dreams of having their own children ripped from them as they are struggling to see a life containing joy and peace.
“They now have to carry with them a lifetime of anguish that no person should have to bear. I have also noted the complete lack of remorse, concern and sympathy shown by Miss Tustin throughout this trial. At no time have I heard evidence of her asking about Arthur and/or his condition, only her complete disdain and inconvenience of the situation, however I note several times she thought it appropriate to bring to the attention of others Arthur's behaviour as if to justify her actions.
“The only pity she has shown is for herself and never once has she apologised for Arthur's passing whilst in her sole care.
I have also listened to barbed comments by a witness that the death of Arthur did not affect him, which is sickening and abhorrent. It is clear from Miss Tustin's evidence we, as a family will not have a definite answer or explanation of how Arthur died, yet another burden we will shoulder for our lifetime.
“It is also clear from the evidence that I have heard that Arthur was failed by the very authorities that we, as a society, are led to believe are there to ensure the safety of everyone. As a mother and grandmother it is with a profound despondency that I have failed in my sole purpose to keep my loved ones safe and ensure their life is filled with only joy, happiness and contentment.
“This, woefully, is no longer the case for any of us and it is with a heavy heart that we have all realised this will never ever be the case again.
“Finally, we as a family, are emphatic that Arthur would be alive today, a happy, contented, thriving, seven-year-old with the opportunity to reach his full potential during his lifetime, if Tom had not met Emma Tustin.
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