top of page



  • Facebook Clean Grey
  • Twitter Clean Grey
  • Instagram Clean Grey

6-year-old boy was 'poisoned' with so much salt he could not put up a fight

A boy allegedly murdered by his father and stepmother after a 'campaign of cruelty' died with bruises which 'screamed inflicted injury', a court heard.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, was killed after suffering months of abuse 'designed to terrorise' the youngster, it is said.

It is claimed Emma Tustin, 32, and Thomas Hughes, 29, poisoned Arthur with salt, deprived him of food and made him stand for hours on end in a hallway.

Arthur died with 'unsurvivable brain injuries' on June 17 last year, a day after being allegedly attacked by Tustin at the 'volatile' couple's home near Solihull, West Mids.

The pair deny murder and multiple counts of child cruelty.

Jurors at Coventry Court Crown on Tuesday heard details from a pathologist who examined Arthur's body following his death.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured) was allegedly murdered by his father and his partner after enduring months of abuse

Emma Tustin (pictured), 32, and Thomas Hughes, 29, are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic cruelty 'designed to torture' the youngster

Dr Roger Malcomson said the youngster was found with multiple bruises 'consistent with inflicted injury', and bleeding seen in 'shaken baby' cases.

He said: 'When children run about and they fall over, and they play football, there's a pattern of injury you expect to see.

'[They] will have bruises on the knees, on the elbows, maybe in the T-zone of the face.

'If you find bruises in protected sites, like behind the ear, buttocks, abdomen, chest wall [...] those bruises, when you see a lot of them, really scream inflicted injury to you.

'That's the pattern Arthur had.'

In a 999 call made after Arthur was found unresponsive, Tustin claimed his head injuries were self-inflicted. She claimed he had 'banged his head while on the floor on all fours'.

Dr Malcomson said Arthur was found to have 'widespread' bleeding in both eyes, which he said was indicative of 'severe blunt impact trauma'.

He said: 'At the minimum, there's been a very significant head impact but there may have also been a shaking-type mechanism present also.'

The paediatric pathologist went on to describe the youngster's eye injuries as being toward the 'extreme end' seen in head trauma cases.

Arthur had been in the full-time care of Hughes after his mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, was accused of killing her new partner, Gary Cunningham, in February 2019.

Prosecutors allege the youngster was subjected to a 'campaign of cruelty' which matched the 'medical definition of child torture'.

Explaining his post-mortem findings, Dr Malcomson said Arthur's thymus - an immune system organ behind the breastbone - had shrunk.

Hughes (left) is accused of forcing his son to endure 'physical and psychological' abuse in the weeks before his death

He told jurors that this was usually found in cases of 'severe and prolonged pathophysiological stress'.

He said: 'I don't mean stress like a hard day at work or giving evidence in front of a jury for the day.

'I mean someone who is very sick, who has been injured severely, or has a severe infection that's knocked them for six.

That sort of severity.'

Asked if 'repeated and sustained abuse' could explain the shrunken thymus by prosecutor Jonas Hankin, QC, Dr Malcomson replied: 'That is my opinion, yes.'

Paramedics were called to the family home on June 16 last year. They restarted Arthur's heart and rushed him to Birmingham Children's Hospital but he died the following day.

Prosecutors allege Tustin murdered the youngster and that Hughes 'intentionally encouraged' the killing.

On Monday, paediatric neuro-radiologist Professor Stavros Stivaros told jurors how he believed shaking was the 'unifying diagnosis' behind Arthur's injuries.

The brain and spine scan expert compared his brain trauma to car crash victims and disputed a hypothesis that Arthur inflicted his own injuries.

Prof Stivaros said: 'It is inconceivable to me that such a high-energy action could be self-inflicted by a child's own physical actions alone.

'How much force is Arthur going to be able to generate when he is on all fours when he is on the ground?

'It's inconceivable that he could have done that.'

Emma Tustin (pictured), 32, and Thomas Hughes, 29, are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic cruelty 'designed to torture' the youngster

In June last year, Hughes allegedly told a neighbour in Solihull (above): 'If you hear anyone saying 'don't kill me', ignore it, I'm not hurting him.'

Credit: Read more from


bottom of page