Four failings have been identified that led to the tragic death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
Arthur died on June 16, 2020, after sustaining an ‘unsurvivable head injury’. His tragic death followed months of abuse at the hands of his father Thomas Hughes, 29, and his stepmother Emma Tustin, 32.
Tustin has been convicted of murdering Arthur, while Hughes has been found guilty of manslaughter. It was found that Hughes encouraged the killing of his son, sending a text message to Tustin shortly before, telling her to ‘just end him’.
Speaking with the Mail Online, Arthur’s maternal grandmother Madeleine Halcrow said:
Arthur was let down by social services and the West Midlands Police. There was an opportunity to save him and it wasn’t taken.
Social workers and police officers reportedly missed four opportunities to save the little boy, as per the Mail Online, dismissing pleas from family members, who were even threatened with arrest under lockdown rules.
The first opportunity reportedly came on April 16, when Arthur’s paternal grandmother, Joanne Hughes, contacted social services stating that her grandson was covered in bruises.
However, after visiting the home, social workers were unable to spot any bruising apart from a ‘faint yellow’ mark on the child’s back. Social worker Jayne Kavanagh and support worker Angela Scarlett-Coppage concluded that Arthur was part of a ‘happy household’ who were ‘all getting along’.
The second missed opportunity came about on April 20, when Joanne contacted Arthur’s school about the bruising. Although a staff member got in touch with social services regarding these concerns, they were told the bruises were due to ‘play’.
On a third, unspecified date, Arthur’s uncle, Daniel Hughes reported concerns to West Midlands Police, but was threatened with arrest if he attempted to return to his nephew’s home for being in breach of COVID rules.
Daniel told members of the jury:
I went on the police webchat to enquire as to what I could do for the safety of my nephew. I had a webchat with an operative. He gave me a case number and within ten minutes a private number called me.
A police officer identified himself, who said he had been around to the address and spoke with Tustin and Tom [Thomas Hughes]. We were advised if we were to return to the address we would be arrested.
I said I had photos of Arthur’s injuries and I didn’t believe that if he had seen those injuries, he would be happy that he was okay. He reluctantly received the photos and said he would speak to his sergeant and get back to me. He never did.
The fourth missed chance came mere weeks before Arthur’s death, when Tustin’s stepfather, John Dutton, placed an anonymous call to social services.
Dutton told the jury he believed Arthur to be ‘in danger’, stating that Hughes ‘dished out the discipline’ on the child, who he claims was ordered to face the wall ‘for hours’ like ‘a zombie’ during times when he was brought to his home.
Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes will today (Friday, December 3) appear for sentencing at Coventry Crown Court.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111
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