A stepmother who was convicted of murdering Arthur Labinjo-Hughes after ‘torturing’ him never mentioned the boy while awaiting trial, according to her former cellmate.
Emma Tustin was given a life sentence with a minimum of 29 years for the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes on June 17, 2020. She killed Arthur by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface.
Tustin and her ex-partner Thomas Hughes inflicted a ‘cruel and systematic campaign of cruelty’ against his son, which included forcing Arthur to stand for up to 14-hours a day alone, depriving him of food and water and poisoning him with salt.
Hughes, 29, was jailed for life with a minimum of 21 years after being found guilty of manslaughter – but cleared of murder – for encouraging the killing, including by sending a text message to Tustin 18 hours before the fatal assault telling her ‘just end him’.
But as it was revealed their ‘lenient’ prison sentences are set to be referred to the Attorney General, Tustin’s former cellmate Elaine Pritchard told the Sunday Mirror that Tustin never mentioned Arthur during the six weeks they shared a cell.
Emma Tustin’s former cellmate Elaine Pritchard claimed Tustin (pictured) never mentioned her stepson Arthur Labinjo-Hughes during the six weeks they shared a cell
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is understood to have ordered a wide-ranging investigation into the murder of the six-year-old, which will involve social services, police, schools and probation watchdogs.
Speaking about sharing a cell with Arthur’s stepmother, Elaine claimed Tustin told inmates she was being held in Eastwood Park prison in Gloucestershire because her ex-partner Hughes had ‘neglected’ his son.
Elaine, who was recalled to prison for battery and criminal damage, told the publication: ‘Emma hadn’t said anything about Arthur dying. She never mentioned him.’
She claimed she only found out about Tustin’s charges after finding her case paperwork, with Elaine saying she grew ‘angry’ after reading about Arthur’s 130 bruises, resulting in the pair having a row.
She claimed she asked Tustin how she didn’t notice Arthur’s bruising while giving him a bath, to which she alleged Tustin responded that she ‘gave him a towel’.
Elaine, who also gave evidence at Tustin’s trial, added: ‘I pressed the bell and said if the prison officers didn’t get her out then I’d be staying there a long time.’
Emma Tustin was given a life sentence with a minimum of 29 years for the murder of Arthur, six, on June 17, 2020. His father Thomas Hughes was also given life sentence for manslaughter
Tustin’s former cellmate Elaine claimed she told inmates she was being held in Eastwood Park prison in Gloucestershire because her ex-partner Hughes had ‘neglected’ his son
Tustin was moved to a different cell, but inmates began lacing her meals with salt after learning about how she had poisoned Arthur, Elaine claimed.
Elsewhere, was reported that the Prime Minister has ordered an investigation into Arthur’s death that will involve social services, police, schools and probation watchdogs.
The inquiry has been designed to ‘learn lessons’ from the six-year-old’s death and to try and prevent a similar tragedy happening again, according to The Times.
The investigation is expected to be formally announced on Sunday, while Mr Johnson reportedly said he will leave ‘no stone unturned’ during the inquiry.
The wide-ranging probe will reportedly consider whether to introduce safeguarding guidelines for at-risk children if there are any future lockdowns.
New figures showed that nearly 50,000 vulnerable children may have ‘dropped off the radar’ of social services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of new cases referred to children’s services departments fell by 45,220 – or 7 per cent – from 2019-20 to 2020-21.
The total dropped to 597,760 for the year to March 2021, the lowest figure since records began in 2013. By contrast, the total for 2018-19, before the pandemic, was 650,930.
The Department for Education said the sharp reduction was driven by a fall in referrals from schools, which were closed for most pupils during lockdown.
Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said the pandemic had put vulnerable children such as Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at greater risk.
‘There was an increase in child abuse because of course they were off the radar,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
A former children’s commissioner also suggested the lockdown helped Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes carry out their reign of terror largely unchecked.
Tustin and Hughes (pictured with Arthur) inflicted a ‘cruel and systematic campaign of cruelty’ against his son, which included depriving him of food and water and poisoning him with salt
Boris Johnson is understood to have ordered a wide-ranging investigation into the murder of Arthur (pictured), which will involve social services, police, schools and probation watchdogs
It comes after it was announced that the ‘lenient’ prison sentences handed to Tustin and Hughes are set to be referred to the Attorney General in a bid to see the pair’s time behind bars extended.
Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes were both jailed for more than 20 years each for their roles in the death of little Arthur, but could face a harsher sentence after Solihull MP Julian Knight warned their case will be passed onto Britain’s chief legal advisor.
Tustin was given a life sentence with a minimum of 29 years while Hughes was jailed for life with a minimum of 21 years. The minimum term before her case is considered by a parole board is 29 years.
But Mr Knight, speaking as he lay flowers outside the youngster’s home in Solihull, West Midlands on Saturday, said he intends to refer Tustin and Hughes’ case to the ‘unduly lenient sentencing scheme’ – meaning the pair’s time behind bars could be extended.
Meanwhile harrowing video footage shows Arthur’s evil stepmother devouring a McDonald’s takeaway while the doomed six-year-old boy starves in the hallway last summer.
Both Tustin, 32, and Hughes, 29, can be seen tucking into ice creams at her Solihull home in West Midlands in June 2020. As the couple relax on the sofa, Arthur is left to stand by himself in the hallway, wearing a fluffy onesie in sweltering temperatures.
Today, in poignant scenes set to be replicated at football grounds across the country, thousands of supporters marked Arthur’s short life with a rousing minute of applause at one top-flight match.
Hughes (pictured), 29, was jailed for life with a minimum of 21 years after being found guilty of manslaughter – but cleared of murder – for encouraging the killing
Applause rang out from the capacity crowd at West Ham’s London Stadium as fans of the Premier League side and league leaders Chelsea shared a touching tribute in the six-minute of their match.
Similar shows of respect are expected at the 3pm kickoffs at other Premier League grounds on Saturday, as well as at Coventry, West Brom and other West Midland clubs later today.
In other clips, recorded on the couple’s home security footage, Tustin scoffs into two separate boxes of McDonald’s, while a starving Arthur is left to his own devices.
Tustin and Hughes starved the youngster, force-fed him salt-laden dishes and made him stand alone for more than 14 hours a day, in a degrading, punishing and hellish regime over the last painful months of his life.
Speaking in Solihull on Saturday, Mr Knight said: ‘There’s a palpable sense of real loss and tragedy over this and also, frankly, a sense of anger, and questions over how this was allowed to happen, how these monsters were allowed to inflict this horrible torture on this young, defenceless boy.
‘My view is very simple on this. We need to get to the bottom of how this happened and we need to ensure that those who have failed him are accountable.
‘But also I think anyone reflecting on those sentences yesterday thinks that they were too lenient and my intention is to refer this to the unduly lenient sentencing scheme as soon as possible and I will be doing that on Monday morning.’
It comes as neighbours revealed Tustin’s violent side previously saw her chase an ex-boyfriend with a garden spade – underlining the turmoil that Arthur was forced to live alongside up until his final days.
Speaking to CoventryLive, one neighbour, who did not wish to be named, claims she saw Tustin armed herself with a garden spade and angrily chased away an ex-boyfriend.
The neighbour explained: ‘She was a nutcase, a fruit loop. One day, her ex came down the road, there had been a row, and she was chasing him down the road with a garden spade.’
Julian Knight, MP for Solihull, leaves behind flowers at the home of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes after warning he will refer the child’s case to the Attorney General for a sentence review
Today, in scenes set to be replicated at across the country, thousands of football supporters at The Den, London, marked Arthur’s short life with a rousing minute of applause
Elsewhere, players wore ‘Arthur we love you’ t-shirts and held a banner in pre-match warmups ahead of Birmingham City FC’s game against Millwall on Saturday
The ‘evil’ stepmother was also said to have rowed with neighbours in disputes over cats.
‘As soon as she moved in she gave a woman a few doors down a nervous breakdown about cats’, the neighbour added.
‘She was shouting ‘get your cats to stop s***ing on my driveway’. As if you can do that?’
Social workers, police and teachers are facing damning questions after a six-year-old boy’s stepmother was found guilty of his murder – and his father convicted of manslaughter – after the pair tortured, starved and beat him to death.
Emma Tustin killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Thomas Hughes starved the youngster and force-fed him food laden with salt.
After killing Arthur, Tustin immediately fetched her mobile phone to take a photograph of him as he lay dying in the hallway to send to her boyfriend.
She called 999 and told the operator Arthur had ‘banged his head’.
After police arrived at her Solihull home, the self-pitying stepmother cried and tried to convince them the stick-thin boy had attacked her – while several miles away he lay dying in hospital.
He passed away the next day when his life support was turned off, with medics deciding there was nothing they could do due to the catastrophic nature of his injuries.
After concerned relatives told the council about bruises on the youngster’s back, social worker Jayne Kavanagh and support worker Angela Scarlett-Coppage visited Tustin’s home but reported ‘no concerns’ after carrying out cursory checks.
Tustin and Hughes had ‘coached’ Arthur and one of Tustin’s other children to pretend his injuries were the result of a play-fight.
A day before Arthur died of ‘unsurvivable’ head injuries inflicted by Tustin, he had been rendered ‘too weak’ even to hold a glass of water to his mouth.
Applause rang out from the capacity crowd at West Ham’s London Stadium as fans of the Premier League side and league leaders Chelsea shared a touching tribute in the six-minute of their match
A tearful Birmingham City FC fan claps as the club and its supporters marked the life of youngster Arthur Labinjo-Hughes
The 130 areas of bruising found on the little boy’s body after his death equated to ‘nearly a bruise for every day of lockdown’.
Meanwhile, social workers wanted to be anonymous when they gave evidence to the court, it can be revealed.
Jailing Tustin and Hughes on Friday, Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said the couple’s campaign of cruel abuse against the defenceless youngster had been ‘without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases I have had to deal with’.
He said of little Arthur: ‘He was a healthy, happy young boy. He enjoyed his food, liked school, loved playing cricket and football and adored spending his time with his extended family.
‘He had been poisoned with so much salt that the levels of sodium in his blood could not be accurately and reliably measured. I am sure that you had also been poisoning him with smaller doses of salt for some time.
‘It is the only explanation for Arthur being heard regularly to cry out for food while rejecting the food that you prepared for him and offered him. It explains why you had been restricting his access to free water for some time.
‘He had been completely isolated from his extended family. He was forced to live a solitary and lonely life within your home, including being made to stand to attention alone in the hallway of the house for most of the day.
‘He was made to sleep downstairs on the hard floor without a mattress.
‘In the last three months of Arthur’s life he was subjected to the most unimaginable suffering at the hands of both of you.
‘You both told lies to conceal what was happening in that house.’
Addressing Hughes, he said: ‘You, I am sure, researched pressure pointing Arthur and then did it. Not in the playful way you suggested but as an attempt to cause maximum pain with minimum injury.’