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Stepmother ‘killed’ six-year-old boy, then told operator 999 ‘He knocked himself out’, court hears

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A stepmother killed a six-year-old boy before telling a 999 call handler, “He knocked himself out,” a court has heard.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes is said to have been murdered by his father and his partner after enduring months of abuse.

Emma Tustin, 32, and Thomas Hughes, 29, are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic atrocities designed to torture the youngster.

Arthur was reportedly not fed, made to stand in a hallway 14 hours a day and was poisoned with salt before being fatally attacked at his home in Shirley, near Solihull, West Midlands.

At a trial in Coventry, jurors received a 999 call from Tustin today, 12 minutes after prosecutors claimed she assaulted him in a hallway in June last year.

Coventry Crown Court overheard Tustin (pictured), 32, taking the youngster to a home to have her hair and eyelashes done when she messaged her boyfriend: ‘I had to tell Arthur he was crazy’

Thomas Hughes (left), 29, also told his girlfriend Emma Tustin to

Thomas Hughes (left), 29, also told his girlfriend Emma Tustin to “gag” Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (right) after she moaned that he gave her “attitude” during a beauty appointment, it was said.

In the panicked call, Tustin told the operator that Arthur was “barely breathing” and “losing color” after hitting his head “about five times.”

After the call handler told him to “take a deep breath,” Tustin continues, “We’ve been having some issues with him for the last few months.

‘Actually he threw himself on the ground, he gave a headbutt. I try to pick him up during the trial. He gave me a headbutt.’

She added: “Obviously I’ve seen the bump on his head, he did it to himself.

“It’s a big bang, he knocked himself out. He’s breathing, but he’s barely breathing.’

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. He died the next day of “unsurvivable brain damage,” the court heard.

Prosecutors allege that Tustin killed the youngster and that Hughes “deliberately encouraged” the murder.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died in hospital just hours after being found unresponsive at a house on Cranmore Road in Shirley, near Birmingham

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died in hospital just hours after being found unresponsive at a house on Cranmore Road in Shirley, near Birmingham

Tustin has pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse but denies further charges of the same crime. Hughes denies all charges.

During the trial, CCTV footage was shown from a living room camera when lifeless Arthur was carried in from the hallway where he was allegedly assaulted.

The cameras showed him lying and lifeless on a couch.

He was then brought to the floor while Hughes carried our 999 instructions on how to perform rescue breaths and chest compressions.

Earlier in the trial, the jurors were told that Arthur’s injuries were consistent with shaking and repeatedly hitting his head against a hard surface.

Tustin is said to have recorded more than 200 audio files of her stepson while he was in “various stages of distress.”

In one Arthur said, “Please help me, help me uncle, they don’t feed me, I need some food and drink.”

Hughes (left) charged with forcing his son to endure 'physical and psychological' abuse in the weeks before his death

Hughes (left) charged with forcing his son to endure ‘physical and psychological’ abuse in the weeks before his death

On June 15, a day before Arthur was reportedly fatally assaulted, Hughes told Tustin to “gag” the schoolboy after she complained about his “back chatting.”

Tustin texted, “Back chatting. A joke. Threw himself on the floor and all. Yell abuse. Still screaming.’

Hughes replied, “Go shut him up or something. Tie a rope around his mouth with a sock in it or something.’

He continued: “He wants to hope that by the time I get back he’s thought about how bad he is and that he’s thinking about apologizing.”

Hughes added: ‘Kid’s get terminated when I get back’. He also said on WhatsApp, “Just ask T to dig Arthur’s grave for me, please.”

Arthur, who died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital on June 17, 2020, was in the care of Mr Hughes full-time after his mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, was accused of murdering her new partner, Gary Cunningham, in February 2019.

She was jailed for 11 years in July this year after being found guilty of manslaughter.

The process continues.

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