Recordings of a six-year-old boy crying “no one loves me” and “no one’s gonna feed me” before his death have been released as the murder trial of his father and stepmother nears its end.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died in hospital from an unsurvivable brain injury after what prosecutors claimed was a “campaign of cruelty”, amounting to “torture”.
Thomas Hughes, 29, and 32-year-old Emma Tustin both deny murdering Arthur, after he suffered a fatal collapse while alone with his stepmother at her Cranmore Road home in Solihull, West Midlands, on June 16 last year.
The pair also face multiple counts of child cruelty, after it was alleged the boy was force-fed salt-laced meals, kept isolated in the home, starved, dehydrated and routinely beaten by the couple.
Hughes sent text messages to Tustin saying to “dig Arthur’s grave”, and “kid’s getting ended when I get back”.
Tustin has claimed Arthur’s fatal head injury was self-inflicted, possibly by throwing himself down the staircase in her hallway, where he was forced to spend “12 to 14 hours” a day as part of the couple’s behavioural regime.
Jurors sitting at Coventry Crown Court have heard the boy had 130 injuries, both old and new, all over his body, including 30 alone on his head and neck.
He did not have his own bed and had to sleep on the lounge floor without a mattress, the court has previously heard.
Prosecutors have also alleged Tustin and Hughes withheld food and drink, and when they did feed Arthur they poisoned him with salt, leaving him frail and weak.
Tustin has also accepted recording more than 200 audio files of Arthur, while he was being punished, claiming they were to show Hughes how his son was behaving.
Two of the audio files have now been made public for the first time since the trial began last month.
In one, Arthur can be heard crying and pleading: “No one loves me,” repeating the phrase four times in a 23-second recording.
In another audio file of 44 seconds, Arthur cries “No one’s gonna feed me” seven times.
Arthur fatally collapsed while he and his father were staying at Tustin’s home during the first Covid lockdown.
The jury has heard from one witness who described how Arthur looked “broken” just a few weeks after he moved in.
Video of a weakened and frail Arthur, recorded just hours before his collapse and previously played in court, was also released for the first time by West Midlands Police.
The footage, recorded on an internal CCTV camera in the property’s lounge, shows the boy struggling to pick up and then put away his pillow and blanket after waking at 8.36am.
It takes him 28 seconds to get to his knees and finally his feet, with an expression of pain on his face throughout.
Though not present for the alleged fatal assault, Hughes, of Stroud Road, Solihull, is accused of aiding the killing, and also faces three counts of child cruelty. He denies wrongdoing.
Tustin has admitted one count of child cruelty but denies two other similar charges.
The trial, due to sit on Wednesday but since adjourned until later in the week, continues.