Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died in hospital on June 17 last year having suffered a traumatic brain injury at a home in Cranmore Road, Shirley, West Midlands the previous day
A boy allegedly murdered by his father and step-mother was recorded crying “no-one loves me” and “daddy’s going to throw me out the window”, a jury has heard.
Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died in hospital on June 17 last year having suffered a traumatic brain injury at a home in Cranmore Road, Shirley, West Midlands, the previous day.
His dad Thomas Hughes, aged 29, and his partner Emma Tustin, 32, stand trial at Coventry Crown Court where they deny murder and multiple counts of child cruelty, reports Birmingham Live.
During the second day of proceedings Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC told the jury that the defendants subjected Arthur to a “campaign of cruelty” in the weeks before his death which matched the medical definition of “child torture”.
The hearing was dominated by text messages, audio clips and video clips exchanged between Tustin and Hughes between the end of March last year up to the day the schoolboy died.
Arthur could be heard crying and sobbing in many of the recordings, in which he also begged to ‘go to nanny’ or his uncle Blake. In one he said: “Blake no-one loves me, Blake no-one loves me.”
Mr Hankin stated Tustin was at her her home in Cranmore Road with Arthur and sent many of the clips to Hughes while he was at work or doing shopping.
In a series of responses Hughes warned he would “end him when I’m back”, “go to town” on his son and “take his jaw off his shoulders”.
In a further reply he instructed Tustin to “put him outside or whatever, put him with the rubbish”.
The prosecutor also played a number of clips in which the six-year-old complained of hunger.
On one recording he was heard saying “no-one’s going to feed me today” and in another “I want dinner and a drink today”.
Tustin appeared to complain about Arthur in numerous messages to Hughes and during one exchange in May, 2020, stated “I want you but I don’t want him, I’m sorry he treats me like s***”, the court heard.
In another text Tustin referred to Arthur as “malicious, cruel and just generally awful” while claiming he made her out to look like a liar to his father.
Mr Hankin also told the jury that Hughes searched for “pressure points on the body” on his phone as well as sent Tustin a picture of a Taser followed by a message saying “gonna thwack him”.
They were then played an audio clip in which Tustin recorded Arthur saying repeatedly “Daddy’s going to throw me out of the window”.
Outlining the law to the jury Mr Hankin said: “The prosecution case is that the defendants bear equal responsibility for Arthur’s death. In the weeks preceding it they collaborated in a campaign of cruelty intending to cause Arthur significant harm and suffering. Violence and intimidation, both physical and verbal, were routine.”
He stated Tustin had been “charged as the principal” for murder because she was the “only possible perpetrator” for the alleged fatal assault on Arthur on June 16.
Mr Hankin argued it was “irrelevant” Hughes was out at the time and that he “shares culpability because he intentionally encouraged the offence”.
The prosecutor told the court by June 15, the day before Arthur collapsed, the couple had “lost the ability to judge what was right and wrong” and “lost their moral compass” adding it was a “matter of time” before one of them “really hurt him”.
Touching upon the opinion of a number of medical experts Mr Hankin stated one doctor concluded the abuse ‘meets the definition of child torture’.
Both defendants also face four child cruelty offences. Tustin has admitted count two which refers to forced prolonged standing and/or isolating Arthur within the family home and from his extended family and/or intimidating him physically and/or verbally.
She denies the three other offences which relate to the wilful assault of Arthur, withholding food and drink and poisoning him with salt.
Hughes denies all four offences. Mr Hankin also touched upon their defence cases saying ‘each directs blame towards the other’.