THE Leader of Solihull Council Councillor Ian Courts has spoken of his shock and horror at the death of six year old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at the hands of his father, Thomas Hughes, and his partner Emma Tustin.
His comments come after Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership announced it was carrying out an independent enquiry into the case.
This comes after Solihull social workers came under fire for failing to take action after being alerted to bruising on the little boy by his paternal grandmother, Joanne Hughes.
A secondary school teacher, on April, 2020 she had rang the out of hours emergency social services team after becoming concerned at bruising on Arthur’s back.
The following day, April 17, social workers looked at him and said they only found a faint yellow bruise and agreed with Tustin and Hughes that it was a ‘happy household’ and no cause for concern.
But photographs, taken on April 16, of the deep purple-coloured bruises were then later sent to social services by Joanne Hughes, on April 24.
Following the sentencing of Tustin and Hughes, Coun Courts said: “Quite understandably there has been a strong and heartfelt reaction from across our borough and nationally.
“This reaction has focused on Arthur’s father and his partner and also on how we have worked as a safeguarding partnership in Arthur’s tragically short life.
“I am very clear that we will leave no stone unturned to understand, learn and fix any issues that the independent review finds and any further actions that may come about through subsequent reviews and inspections.”
The court heard that when interviewed by police over the death of Arthur, Tustin and Hughes claimed he had ‘banged his own head on the floor’.
In fact medical analysis found he had suffered a head trauma inflicted by an adult and the most likely way that happened was by him being vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface.
When paramedics arrived at his stepmother’s Cranmore Road home in Shirley on June 16, 2020, they found a neighbour attempting CPR on the little boy.
Arthur had bruising to his head and body, appeared underweight and his gums were bleeding.
He was taken to hospital but sadly died at 1am the following morning.
Yesterday, Friday, December 3, Tustin, 32, was jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years after she was found guilty of murder at Coventry Crown Court.
His father, Thomas Hughes, 29, of Stroud Road, Solihull, was convicted of his manslaughter and jailed for 21 years.
Police found the couple even had CCTV set up in the house.
Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Laura Harrison said: “As part of our investigations we were able to access their home where we found CCTV cameras set up in their living room and the footage from that helped us build up a picture of the grim reality of Arthur’s life inside that house.”
Tustin also had more than 200 recordings of Arthur on her phone.
In them he can be heard asking to visit other members of his family, in others he’s begging for help, saying he’s not being fed and needs food and drink.
Police also found furious text messages between Tustin and Hughes on the day before Arthur was fatally injured, and evidence of a phone call before another text from Hughes to Tustin saying ‘just end him’.
On the day the fatal blow was struck, Hughes left the house just after 1pm leaving Tustin with Arthur.
Using evidence from CCTV and phone calls, police believe it was then that Tustin inflicted the injury, then failed to call an ambulance for 12 minutes.
During that time Tustin is seen to carry Arthur into the living room, into the kitchen and back into the living room, before propping him up on the sofa.
Hughes arrived back home and they try to give Arthur a drink and some children’s paracetamol before finally calling 999.
A post mortem revealed Arthur had more than 100 marks and bruises including bruises of different ages.
Tustin and Hughes also faced four charges of cruelty to a child. On the opening day of the trial on October 5, Tustin pleaded guilty to one of those charges – wilfully ill-treating Arthur on multiple occasions by forced standing, isolation and intimidation.
In the final days of the trial Tustin admitted a second charge of child cruelty, namely assaulting Arthur on multiple occasions.
On Thursday, December 2 she was convicted of two further charges of cruelty by withholding food and drink and by administering salt.
Hughes was also convicted on two counts of cruelty, by forced standing, isolation and intimidation, and also by assaulting Arthur. Hughes was cleared of murder, cruelty by withholding food and drink and by administering salt.