A horrifying video has emerged showing the father and stepmother of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes tucking into ice cream in their home as the six-year-old boy was left starving and standing alone in the hallway.
Arthur was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of his stepmother, 32-year-old Emma Tustin – who poisoned him with salt and withheld food and drink.
She was jailed for life on Friday, after being convicted of murder by assaulting defenceless Arthur in the hallway of her Cranmore Road home in Solihull, on 16 June 2020.
Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes, 29, was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 21 years after encouraging the killing of his son, whose body was found covered in 130 bruises when he died in hospital.
Now, footage has been released showing the pair cuddled up together on the sofa in their home eating ice cream, just three days before Arthur was killed. As the video was filmed on 13 June, Arthur was standing out of sight starving in the hallway and sweltering in a onesie.
Another video shows Tustin enjoying a McDonald’s.
The videos, taken on a home security camera, were shown during the couple’s lengthy trial which ended this week, further highlighting the scale of neglect and torture Arthur was victim to.
It emerged at 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”.
Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership has subsequently launched an independent review of the case.
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.
Hughes’s “infatuation” for Tustin had “obliterated” any love for his son, the sentencing judge said.
As the sentencing began on Friday, Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said Tustin had been brought to court for her sentencing but had “refused to come up” to the dock.
Speaking after the sentencing, ex-children’s minister Tim Loughton said “we” all have a “duty” to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur.
“Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service,” the Tory MP wrote in The Sun.
“Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said ministers will leave "absolutely no stone unturned" to establish what went wrong in the “appalling” case.
A spokesperson from the NSPCC told The Independent: “We are all still struggling to come to terms with what Arthur Labinjo-Hughes endured before he was killed by Tustin and Hughes. Their sentencing marks the end of the first stage in achieving some sort of justice for Arthur.
“The Child Safeguarding Practice Review must now leave no stone unturned in establishing exactly what took place before Arthur died and whether more could have been done to protect and ultimately save him. It also needs to inform a wider discussion of how we prevent these appalling cases of child cruelty from happening.”
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