Sick texts called six-year-old ‘devil child’ before alleged murder
A stepmum branded a six-year-old boy a “devil child” and “little f**k” in texts before she allegedly murdered him, a court has heard. WARNING: Distressing.
A stepmum called a six-year-old boy a “devil child” and “little f**k” in texts before she allegedly murdered him, a UK court has heard.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, 6, suffered “unsurvivable brain injuries” after allegedly being abused by Thomas Hughes, 29, and his partner Emma Tustin, 32.
Mr Hughes and Ms Tustin are accused of child mistreatment and murder. They both deny the charges.
The court heard the couple had shared texts leading up to the youngster’s death in Solihull, West Midlands, detailing the alleged abuse Arthur suffered, The Sun reports.
In some read to jurors at Coventry Crown Court, Ms Tustin referred to Arthur as a “little t**t”, “little p***k” and a “little f**k”.
The court was told she also messaged Mr Hughes claiming the little boy was “screaming” and demanding to go to his grandmother’s home.
She said in one: “I want you but not him. I’m not being treated like that by him.”
Jurors heard how Ms Tustin had made numerous references to being pregnant in the weeks leading up to Arthur’s death and accused Mr Hughes of “turning his back” on his unborn child.
A further text read: “You stay with the devil child.”
Mr Hughes also sent messages to Ms Tustin where he threatened to “take his jaw off his shoulders” and compared him to “f***ing Hitler” in another.
The court also heard audio clips Ms Tustin recorded of Arthur sobbing while allegedly being abused.
The youngster can be heard weeping in another recording for his uncle, Blake, saying: “Blake no-one loves me, Blake no-one loves me.”
He also cried in a clip Ms Tustin sent Mr Hughes where he said: “Daddy’s going to throw me out the window, Daddy’s going to throw me out the window, Daddy’s going to throw me out of the window.”
Arthur was subjected to a “campaign of cruelty” before his death that matched the “medical definition of child torture”, the court heard.
He was allegedly “segregated and isolated” for “up to 14 hours a day” and deprived of a bed, food and clothing, the court was told.
Jurors heard how on June 16 last year, Arthur was found unresponsive at the home in Solihull.
He died in hospital the next day, with a post-mortem examination giving a cause of death as a “head trauma inflicted on him by an adult” consistent with being “vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface”.
Doctors found he had also been “poisoned with salt” and had suffered extensive bruising over his small body, the court heard.
The court was told Ms Tustin recorded more than 22 pictures and videos of Arthur in distress.
She allegedly carried out the fatal assault and fetched her phone immediately afterwards to photograph the boy as he lay dying in the hallway.
Prosecutors said that despite having her phone, she took 12 minutes to call emergency services, telling medics Arthur “fell and banged his head and while on the floor banged his head another five times”.
She and Mr Hughes are accused of multiple counts of child cruelty, after allegedly forcing Arthur to endure “systematic, cruel behaviour” of “physical and psychological” abuse in the weeks before his death.
The court heard how one witness claimed Arthur was “too weak” to even hold a glass of water to his mouth.
They also said 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, gaunt and worn out”.
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC told the court: “Both defendants participated in a campaign of cruelty intended to cause Arthur significant harm and suffering.
“Violence and intimidation, both physical and verbal, were routine.
“Arthur’s visible injuries, his miserable physical condition and obvious despair provided each defendant with a daily reminder of the lengths to which the other would go to cause him harm.”
Jurors heard how Arthur’s death came three months after his father had moved into Ms Tustin’s home.
Before the move, the youngster was “cherished by all” and lived a “stable” life with his father and extended family, in an annex in the garden of Arthur’s paternal grandparents.
He had been placed in his dad’s care after his mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 26, was jailed for stabbing her boyfriend to death.
In April 2020, it emerged children’s social services and police were alerted by his grandmother to concerns about Arthur’s care.
Family had seen bruises on Arthur’s back, and he said Ms Tustin had “called him an ugly, horrible brat” and shoved him headfirst into the stairs.
After children’s services saw Arthur on April 17, “no concerns were raised”, and while photos of the bruises were sent to the police, no further action was taken, it was said.
Ms Tustin has admitted to one count of child cruelty which refers to “forcing [Arthur] to stand, isolating him within the family home, and physically or verbally intimidating him”. She denies the other charges.
Ms Hughes denies a similar charge.
The pair also deny murder and an allegation of child cruelty by administering salt to Arthur between June 1 and 17 last year.
Both are jointly accused of two counts of child cruelty by assault on multiple occasions and also by withholding food and/or drink.
The trial continues.
This story originally appeared in The Sun and has been reproduced with permission