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

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A stepmother killed a six-year-old boy before telling a 999 call handler ‘he’s knocked himself out’, a court has heard.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was allegedly 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 cruelty ‘designed to torture’ the youngster.

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Arthur was allegedly deprived of food, made to stand in a hallway for 14 hours a day and poisoned with salt before being killed at his home near Solihull, West Midlands.

At a trial in Coventry, jurors were today played a 999 call made by Tustin 12 minutes after prosecutors claim she assaulted him in a hallway in June last year.

Emma Tustin (pictured), 32, and Thomas Hughes, 29, are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic cruelty 'designed to torture' the youngster

Emma Tustin (pictured), 32, and Thomas Hughes, 29, are said to have subjected Arthur to systematic cruelty ‘designed to torture’ the youngster 

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured) was allegedly murdered by his father and his partner after enduring months of abuse

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured) was allegedly murdered by his father and his partner after enduring months of abuse

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In the frantic call, Tustin told the operator that Arthur was ‘barely breathing’ and had ‘lost colour’ after banging his head ‘on the floor about five times’.

After being told to take a ‘deep breath’ by the call handler, Tustin continues: ‘We’ve been having a little bit of trouble with him for the last couple of months.

‘Basically he’s threw himself on the floor, he’s headbutted the floor. I’m trying to pick him up in the process. He’s headbutted me in the process.’

She then added: ‘Obviously I’ve seen the lump on his head, he’s done to himself.

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‘It’s a big bang, he’s knocked himself out. He is 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 following day from ‘unsurvivable brain injuries’, the court heard.

Prosecutors allege Tustin murdered the youngster and that Hughes ‘intentionally encouraged’ the killing.

Arthur (pictured) was allegedly deprived of food, made to stand in a hallway for 14 hours a day and poisoned with salt before being killed at his home near Solihull, West Midlands

Arthur (pictured) was allegedly deprived of food, made to stand in a hallway for 14 hours a day and poisoned with salt before being killed at his home near Solihull, West Midlands

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

The trial was shown CCTV footage from a living room camera as lifeless Arthur was carried in from the hallway, where it is alleged he was attacked.

The cameras showed him lying prone and lifeless on a sofa.

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

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

Tustin is alleged 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’re not feeding me, I need some food and a drink.’

Hughes (left) is accused of forcing his son to endure 'physical and psychological' abuse in the weeks before his death

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

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On June 15, a day before Arthur was allegedly fatally assaulted, Hughes told Tustin to ‘gag’ the schoolboy after she complained about his ‘backchatting’.

Tustin sent a text: ‘Backchatting. A joke. Threw himself on the floor and everything. Shouting abuse. Still screaming.’

Hughes replied: ‘Just gag him or something. Tie some 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 much of a c*** he is and wants to think about apologising.’

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Hughes then added: ‘Kid’s getting ended 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, had been in the full-time care of Mr Hughes after his mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, was accused of killing 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 trial continues.

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