A “wicked” stepmother has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years for cruelly abusing, poisoning and murdering her partner’s six-year-old son.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of “evil” Emma Tustin.
The 32-year-old fatally assaulted the youngster with severe force in the hallway of her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, on June 16, 2020. He died in hospital the following day.
Tustin was unanimously convicted of Arthur’s murder after an eight-week trial at Coventry Crown Court, with the boy’s “pitiless” father, Thomas Hughes, found guilty of his manslaughter, after encouraging the killing.
The 29-year-old was jailed for 21 years, at the pair’s sentencing hearing on Friday.
It emerged at their trial that Arthur had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, after concerns were raised by his paternal grandmother, Joanne Hughes, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.
In her victim impact statement, which she read in court ahead of the sentencing, Ms Hughes said Arthur, as a “happy, contented, thriving seven-year-old”, would “be alive today” had her son not met Tustin.
The secondary school teacher added: “It is also clear 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 the hearing began, Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said Tustin had been taken to court for her sentencing but had “refused to come up” to the dock.
He started by saying that the trial had been “without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases I have had to deal with”.
Jailing the pair, he said: “This cruel and inhuman treatment of Arthur was a deliberate decision by you to brush off his cries for help as naughtiness.”
Addressing Tustin, who he said had made a “calculated” decision to kill, he said: “You are a manipulative woman who will tell any lie, and shift the blame on to anyone, to save your own skin.”
He added: “You wanted Thomas Hughes so he could provide for you and your own children but did not want to be troubled by Arthur any longer.”
The judge called Hughes’ “encouragement” of his girlfriend’s actions “chilling”.
He added: “You were Arthur’s father, in a position of trust, and bore primary responsibility for protecting him.
“He was extremely vulnerable and you lied to his school in last days of Arthur’s life to protect both you and Ms Tustin.”