Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ father says co-defendant girlfriend ‘gassed’ and ‘mentally abused’ him, court told

A father accused of murdering his six-year-old son claimed his co-defendant ex-girlfriend had “gaslighted” him and “mentally abused him.”

Thomas Hughes stated that he would “never forgive” his former partner Emma Tustin, arguing that he had no “choice” over the deaths of son Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and his unborn daughter, who was aborted in custody.

The 29-year-old admitted he was cruel to his son for assaulting him and leaving him in isolation for up to 14 hours a day. He confessed that he had made the ‘wrong’ decision not to take Arthur with him and ‘walk away’ from Tustin’s Cranmore Road home, Shirley, adding that it would ‘stay with me forever’.

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Hughes pleaded not guilty to Arthur’s murder and four child abuse charges. Tustin, 32, who was Arthur’s stepmother, has denied murder and three charges of child abuse, but has admitted one atrocity offense linked to him being in seclusion for a long time.

It is alleged that during the first national lockdown last year, they left Arthur in a hallway all day as punishment, assaulted him, deprived him of food and water, poisoned him with salt and eventually killed him. Both are on trial at the Coventry Crown Court.

Thomas Hughes, Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Emma Tustin

Today – Monday, November 22 – Hughes was questioned by prosecutor Jonas Hankin. Accepting “towards the end,” he “probably” valued Tustin’s love and attention over Arthur’s well-being.

Hughes told the jury that he thought her home was a “good environment” for Arthur during the lockdown, as he would have been around Tustin’s two children.

He claimed it was Tustin who “coached” Arthur and her son to lie to social services that bruises to Arthur’s back – reported to the authority by Arthur’s grandmother – were caused in a boxing glove game fight. Hughes said he was uncomfortable and wanted to “tell the truth,” but Tustin warned they would have their children taken away if he didn’t go along with it.

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The defendant denied the prosecution’s claims that he put his relationship with Tustin over Arthur and then chose her “side” over his son’s.

“I don’t think I took sides, I was in the middle,” said Hughes.

He also refuted that he “disowned” Arthur despite texting Tustin, “He’s a disgrace. That’s not my son.”

He explained that this was in response to a video of Arthur scratching himself when Arthur had previously accused Tustin of scratching him. Hughes also dismissed the fact that he was still on Tustin’s side when he supposedly “covered up” for her by taking all the blame for Arthur’s death in his police interrogations.


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Claiming he was just trying to protect his unborn child, he added: “If I had known what kind of person Emma Tustin was, I wouldn’t have been there. I was not aware of her involvement with the police. Unaware of her suicide attempt. I didn’t know she had other children. I was not aware of her personality.”

He told the court that he kept the relationship with Tustin because he wanted a “stable family unit for Arthur.”

When asked what ‘difficulties’ were worth more to him than preventing Arthur’s continued suffering, he replied: “Nothing to look back on. I was mentally abused by Emma Tustin at the time.”

He added that it would cause “unnecessary quarrels” with his ex-girlfriend if he suggested that his son come out of his isolation.

Hughes denied ever encouraging Tustin to physically punish Arthur himself. He stated there was “no threat of violence” during a two-minute phone call he had with Tustin shortly before she was alleged to have carried out the deadly June 16 attack.

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Be involved too Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Barnardo’s, Spurgeon’s children’s charity, the Springfield project in Sparkhill, St Paul’s Community Development Trust and Your Local Pantry, which runs food hubs in 12 locations in Birmingham and the Black Country.

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In a re-examination by his own lawyer, Hughes admitted that he had been “cruel” to his son and that he intended to hurt him, but no serious harm.

Asked what he thinks of his own actions now, he said: “I am disgusted with myself. No parent should do as I did and I am not happy with myself at all. I can never see my son from this situation again because of this and it’s terrible.”

Hughes described his thoughts on Tustin’s alleged behaviour, adding: “It is disgusting. I think she has cheated an awful lot of people, not just myself, and I will never forgive her. Two of my children have been kidnapped and I have no choice in any of the cases.”

Hughes agreed that he had a choice to take Arthur away from Tustin’s house, but he didn’t. He said, “It’s a choice that will stay with me forever because I was the wrong one.”

The process continues.

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