Dad accused of murdering son, 6, ‘told partner to put him out with rubbish’

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was found unresponsive at a home in Solihull, West Midlands, last year with father Thomas Hughes and his partner Emma Tustin facing charges of murder

A dad accused of murdering his six-year-old son allegedly told his partner to put him “out with the rubbish” and “end him”, a court heard.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was found unresponsive at a home in Cranmore Road, Shirley in Solihull, West Midlands, on June 16 last year, Birmingham Live reports.

He died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital the following day. A post-mortem examination confirmed his death was caused by a head injury.

Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes, aged 29 of Stroud Road, Shirley, and Emma Tustin, aged 32, of Cranmore Road, were subsequently arrested and charged.

Coventry Crown Court was today played audio clips of Arthur appearing to call out for his Uncle Blake and his nanny.

One audio clip played to the court features Arthur crying and saying: “I want to go to nanny.”

In another similar recording he can be heard sobbing and calling for his uncle Blake saying: ‘Blake no-one loves me, Blake no-one loves me’.

Jonas Hankin QC, for the prosecution, also described a text exchange between Tustin and Hughes in which the former said Arthur had “caused enough arguments”.

On May 6, 2020, Hughes allegedly texted Tustin, telling her: “Tell him not to move a muscle – put him by the fridge, put him outside or wherever, give him away.

“Put him out with the rubbish.”

Hughes also messaged Tustin allegedly telling her: “Just end him.”

In a further text referring to Arthur, Tustin said: “He has no respect and zero f****. He knows he can get in between us.”

Each defendant “directs the blame towards each other”, jurors were told.

Mr Hankin tells the jury: “They deny ill-treating Arthur or being criminally liable for his death apart from the guilty plea entered by Emma Tustin to count two. All other allegations of ill-treatment and responsibility for the death of this child are denied by her and his father. Each directs the blame towards each other.

“The prosecution say, however, that neither can begin to justify what they did to him. Arthur was a defenceless child entirely dependent for his wellbeing.

“It may be suggested that Arthur had some behavioural difficulties. The prosecution contends any such difficulties were more likely due to their abusive treatment of him rather than to any other cause.

“In any event, whatever their cause, such difficulties warranted care and support, not cruelty. But for reasons which are unfathomable Arthur became a target for derision, abuse and systematic cruelty designed to cause significant mental suffering.

“You may hear details of the relationship between the defendants and the way it developed. No doubt their relationship was volatile and dysfunctional and may inform their behaviour.

The prosecution is not required to prove the reasons why they behaved as they did. All that matters is what you are sure they did or encouraged the crimes alleged against them.

“It may never be known how the defendants were able to behave towards a vulnerable young child in the way they did.”

Mr Hankin also told the court it is suspected the six-year-old was “repeatedly poisoned with salt contaminated food or fluids possibly by thirsting him.”

He told the court that between 11.45am and 1.45pm on June 16 Arthur consumed around 34grams of salt, equal to six and a half tablespoons.

One medical expert concluded Arthur could have been ‘repeatedly administered moderate doses of salt’.

The court heard how Arthur was fatally injured in Tustin’s sole care while Hughes was out shopping, jurors heard.

Mr Hankin says Tustin messaged Hughes at 1.31pm to complain that Arthur was ‘still screaming’.

He told the court at 1.41pm Hughes texted Tustin explaining he had spotted his mother in Sainsbury’s and asked Tustin to ‘move him to the back door’ in case his mother visited.

The prosecutor said Tustin was upstairs between 1.40pm and 2.02pm and sent a picture message to Hughes showing Arthur’s face.

Mr Hankin added: “There was a blue mark on his forehead consistent with a bruise. There appears to be blood on the right nostril. His lips were red. His right eye was closed. From his expression he appears to be in pain.”

The jury heard Tustin claimed to Hughes that Arthur “threw himself against the wall in the bedroom”.

Mr Hankin says the first ambulance arrived at 2.50pm with the crew witnessing Arthur on his back on the floor receiving CPR from the neighbour.

They have both pleaded not guilty to murder. Tustin has admitted one count of child cruelty but has denied further charges of the same offence. Hughes also denies child cruelty offences.