May 2022

Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes sentences appealed

The stepmother jailed for murdering Arthur Labinjo-Hughes should be given a whole-life order, a sentencing review at the Court of Appeal has heard.

Emma Tustin was jailed for at least 29 years and Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes got 21 years for manslaughter.

The pair are appealing against their jail terms which are also being challenged as being unduly lenient.

The six-year-old suffered an unsurvivable brain injury while in the care of Tustin at her home in Solihull.

The couple’s trial at Coventry Crown Court in December heard Arthur had been poisoned with salt, subjected to regular beatings, denied food and drink and made to stand for hours alone in the hallway of Tustin’s house.

He died in June 2020.

At the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Tom Little QC, representing the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), said Tustin’s case “merited at the very least consideration of a whole-life order”.

“This was, we accept, not a straightforward sentencing exercise. The trial was plainly a harrowing one for all concerned,” he said.

Arthur was “subjected to the most unimaginable suffering”, he said, adding: “This was an extremely serious example of child murder against the background of that cruelty.”

In written submissions, Mr Little said the trial judge Mr Justice Wall failed to properly consider whether Tustin’s offences were so serious they required a whole-life order.

He said the murder was “sadistically motivated” and even if it was not, her offending as a whole was “so exceptionally serious” that it was open to the judge to impose a whole-life order.

The 30-year starting point for her sentence should have been significantly increased, he wrote.

Mary Prior QC, acting for Tustin, said the sentencing judge took a “fair and proper approach in this very difficult case” and the “toxicity of the relationship” between the couple created a scenario where they both abused Arthur.

“At the very least, Thomas Hughes was encouraging Emma Tustin to be cruel, to assault and to ill-treat his son,” she added.

Bernard Richmond QC, representing Hughes, argued that the judge fell into error and was almost “treble counting” when calculating his sentence.

The hearing concluded on Wednesday and the judgement was reserved.

December 2021

Stepmother guilty of six-year-old’s murder

Emma Tustin has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 29 years for the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for his manslaughter.

The stepmother of a six-year-old, who died after suffering a head injury, has been found guilty of his murder.

Emma Tustin, 32, was convicted today (2 December 2021) at Coventry Crown Court following a trial that lasted eight weeks. She had previously pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child cruelty.

On 16 June 2020, Arthur Labinjo- Hughes was found unresponsive at his home and died in hospital the next day.

The court heard that while in the care of Tustin, Arthur suffered  a fatal head injury, comparable to those seen in car accident victims.

Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was cleared of his murder but convicted of manslaughter.

The prosecution case was that Tustin and Hughes were responsible for Arthur’s death. The jury found Hughes guilty of deliberately encouraging Tustin to use violence on Arthur.

The evidence, including text message exchanges, audio clips, video and photographic material and CCTV footage, shows that Tustin and Hughes were  consistently cruel to Arthur between March and June 2020.

Arthur was found to have slept on the floor and the police found his duvet in a cabinet under the stairs.

He was forced to stand in isolation for long periods, and he was punished for any movement, including attempts to sit down.

He was forced to stand in isolation for long periods and was punished for any movement, including attempts to sit down. Arthur was also stopped from seeing his relatives including his grandparents and uncle.

Furthermore, Tustin did not allow him to eat with his family, deprived him of drinks and poisoned him by excessive salt in his food.

Tustin recorded Arthur on her phone around 200 times. In the audio recordings, Arthur stated that he had been denied food and drink for weeks.

It was clear that he was unhappy, needed food and water and repeatedly asked for his uncle.

The CPS proved that Tustin inflicted Arthur’s injuries with the intent to cause him serious harm based on the specific nature of the assault on him, the extent of the injuries sustained and the degree of force used.

Arthur’s visible injuries, poor physical condition, and obvious despair further demonstrated that she intended to seriously harm him.

Tustin denied murder but was found guilty by the jury.