A “BULLY” father and stepmother branded her six-year-old son a “little slut” and promised to “fill him in” in WhatsApp messages, a court heard.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, suffered “not to survive brain damage” after allegedly being abused by Thomas Hughes, 29, and his partner Emma Tustin, 32.
When the second week of their trial started today, the jury was shown messages sent back and forth between the couple.
Tustin sent Hughes a message on WhatsApp, reading, “He’s been screaming since you left.”
She later told Hughes to “please hurry” because “I’ve had enough of the cheek, little t ***”, reports the Birmingham Mail.
A following message from the stepmother read: “He says let me go or I’m going to stand here and scream, you think ignoring me will shut me down. It will not.”
On May 25, Hughes sent a message to his partner in which he read, “I will fill him in if he says I have turned him on.”
Tustin replied and wrote “Christ man. Little p ****” before adding, “He will not be in this family.”
A day later, Tustin added, “F *** launching this lying little f ***.”
Another message added: “He screams, he doesn’t care about me and he hates me.
“He hopes the baby gets to heaven as the last one. I want to be dad’s only child. He’s going to punch me in the face, he just said.”
Hughes’ answer was simply, “Wow.”
The tragic young man was subjected to a “cruelty campaign” before his death that matched the “medical definition of child torture”, Coventry Crown Court heard earlier.
Arthur was allegedly poisoned with salt and prevented from having food and drink.
‘POISONED WITH SALT’
He was also “separated and isolated” for “up to 14 hours a day” and deprived of a bed and clothes.
An earlier court hearing heard that in another set of messages between the couple, Hughes threatened to “take the jaw off his shoulders”.
Another was sent to Tustin after Hughes received an audio clip of Arthur crying at her, reading, “I’ll just finish him off when I’m back then.”
One from the father said, “I take care of him when I’m home and it’s not going to be pretty. Get to sleep before I get him in.”
Jurors heard how Arthur was found on June 16 last year Arthur did not respond at home in Solihull.
He died at the hospital the next day with an autopsy that gave a cause of death as a “head trauma inflicted on him by an adult” in accordance with being “severely shaken and his head repeatedly pounded against a hard surface”.
Doctors found that he too had been “poisoned with salt” and had suffered extensive bruising over his fragile body, it was said.
The court was told that Tustin recorded more than 22 photos and videos of Arthur in distress.
She allegedly carried out the fatal assault and picked up her phone immediately after to photograph the boy while he was lying dying in the hallway.
Prosecutors said that despite having her phone, she took 12 minutes to call 999 and told doctors Arthur “fell and knocked on his head and while he was on the floor he knocked on his head five more times”.
She and Hughes are charged with multiple counts of child abuse, after forcing Arthur to endure “systematic, cruel behavior” for “physical and psychological” abuse in the weeks before his death.
The court heard how a witness claimed that Arthur was “too weak” to even hold a glass of water to his mouth.
They also said that his “clothes looked dirty, his lips cracked, he could barely open his mouth to speak, his hair was dirty, his nails were dirty and he looked malnourished, skinny and worn out.”
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said: “Both defendants participated in a campaign against cruelty aimed at causing Arthur significant harm and suffering.
“Violence and intimidation, both physical and verbal, were routine.
“Arthur’s visible injuries, his miserable physical condition, and apparent despair gave each defendant a daily reminder of how long the other would go to cause him harm.”
Jurors have heard how Arthur’s death came three months after his father moved into Tustin’s home.
Before the move, the young man was “loved by all” and lived a “stable” life with his father and extended family in an annex in the garden of Arthur’s grandparents.
He had been placed in the care of his father after his mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 26, was jailed for 18 years for stabbing her boyfriend to death.
In April 2020, it came to children’s social services and police were alerted by his grandmother to concerns about Arthur’s care.
The family had seen bruises on Arthur’s back, and he said Tustin had “called him an ugly, awful abrupt” and pushed him into the stairs first.
After child services saw Arthur on April 17, “no concerns were raised” and while photos of the bruises were sent to police, no further action was taken, it was said.
Tustin has admitted to child abuse by having treated Arthur on several occasions by “forcing him to stand, isolating him in the family home and physically or verbally intimidating him”.
Hughes denies a similar charge.
The couple also denies murder and an allegation of child abuse by filing salt to Arthur between June 1 and 17 last year.
Both are jointly charged with two cases of child abuse in the case of assault several times and also by withholding food and / or drink.
The trial continues.
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