The mother of a defenceless six-year-old boy who was killed by his step-mother and father has paid tribute to her ‘beautiful boy with a superpower smile’.
Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 27, said details of her son Arthur’s abuse and death at the hands of his father and his ex-girlfriend were ‘harrowing and incomparable’.
Arthur, who loved reading, playing football and dressing up as superheroes, died from head injuries after enduring months of torture at the hands of Thomas Hughes and Emma Tustin.
Tustin, 32, killed Arthur by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Hughes starved the youngster and force-fed him food laden with salt.
The mother of Arthur Labinjo-Halcrow said in a tribute shared after the trial that the six-year-old loved reading, football and dressing up as superheroes and he had a ‘superpower smile’
Arthur’s mother Olivia, who is currently in prison, described her son’s murder as ‘harrowing’
Pictured: Arthur, pictured here in his Spiderman hat, loved dressing up as superheroes
Today Tustin was convicted of murdering Arthur on June 17, 2020, during the Covid lockdown.
Hughes was also found guilty of manslaughter – but cleared of murder – for encouraging the killing, including by sending a text message to Tustin 18 hours before the fatal assault telling her ‘just end him’.
They were both convicted of numerous counts of child cruelty. Following the verdicts, the judge ordered a minute’s silence for Arthur at the request of the jury.
Speaking after the trial, Arthur’s grandmother Madeleine Halcrow read a tribute on behalf of her daughter Olivia Labinjo Hughes, who is Arthur’s biological mother.
She is currently serving a 11-year sentence for killing her partner Gary Cunningham in 2019.
Arthur’s biological mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 29, (left) killed partner Gary Cunningham (right) by stabbing him 12 times with a kitchen knife in a drunken rage in February 2019
Arthur’s mother Olivia said he loved Birmingham City and could name all the England players
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with father Thomas Hughes and Thomas’ partner Emma Tustin. Tustin has been convicted of murder and Hughes is guilty of manslaughter after a harrowing trial
She said: ‘Following the conclusion of my son’s trial I want to take his opportunity to focus on the life Arthur lived and to celebrate the beautiful little boy I knew and loved deeply.
‘The details of Arthur’s case are harrowing and incomparable but I want people to know who Arthur was, from his huge smile and his personality to his gentle and caring nature.
‘All mothers are biased and believe their children are the best and I’m no different. From the moment Arthur was born he was always smiling and had the most inquisitive little mind.
‘When I think about Arthur’s life and what he loved there are always three things that I always thing about.
‘Firstly, he loved to read or to be read to and any of the Julia Donaldson books were his favourite. He liked the Gruffalo and the Snail and the Whale.
‘When he started school his love of reading became a love of learning how to write new words.
Emma Tustin, 32, (left) killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Thomas Hughes starved the youngster and poisoned him with salt
‘Every week he would be excited about the ten new words he was given to learn. Secondly Arthur loved his food. He was 10lbs 6.5oz when he was born and his love of milk soon turned to his love of food.
He would try anything and like all children he would want whatever I was having. I remember when he started school, every day on the way home he would tell me what he had at lunchtime and then ask me what we would be having for dinner.
‘But what Arthur loved more than anything was being outside. He loved to play football and was kicking a ball around as soon as he could walk.
Speaking after the trial, Arthur’s grandmother Madeleine Halcrow (pic) read a tribute on behalf of her daughter Olivia Labinjo Hughes, who is Arthur’s biological mum. She is currently serving a 11-year sentence for killing her partner
‘By the time he was four he could name some, if not all, of the England team and he always had the latest Birmingham City football kit.
‘I could talk for hours about what Arthur loved and who Arthur was but everyone who loved him have their own story.
‘Talking about Arthur’s loves would not be complete without talking about his love of superheroes. Marvel or DC, Arthur loved them all.
‘From Batman to Black Panther. Superman to The Flash. He had every costume and action figure and loved dressing up pretending he had all of those super powers.
‘Arthur was the light of my life, he was not only just my only child he was my best friend.
‘Never could I have imagined he could have been taken from this world so early in his life.
‘If Arthur could ask for one final thing it would be that he would be remembered for his super power. That’s what I will always remember him for, his super power and Arthur’s super power was his smile.’
After killing Arthur, Tustin immediately fetched her mobile phone to take a photograph of him as he lay dying in the hallway to send to her boyfriend.
She called 999 and told the operator Arthur had ‘banged his head’. After police arrived at her home, the self-pitying stepmother cried and tried to convince them the stick-thin boy had ‘headbutted’ her – while several miles away he lay dying in hospital.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, 6, loved learning and playing outside, his mother Olivia said
He passed away the next day when his life support was turned off, with medics deciding there was nothing they could do due to the catastrophic nature of his injuries.
Harrowing video taken in Arthur’s final hours showed the youngster grimacing in pain with his emaciated frame showing through his tattered pyjamas as he shouted ‘no one loves me’ four times then ‘no one is going to feed me’ seven times in 44 seconds.
Today, his maternal grandmother Madeleine Halcrow told MailOnline: ‘Arthur was let down by social services and the West Midlands Police. There was an opportunity to save him and it wasn’t taken.’
Arthur’s maternal mother said the little boy loved nothing more than to play outside. But he was forced to wear a fluffy onesie for days during a baking heatwave and stand isolated in a hallway for 15 hours a day over six weeks in a ‘punishing regime’.
The little boy, who ‘loved his food’ and looked forward to mealtimes, was starved and forced to drink a lethal ‘salt slurry’ before he died. CCTV caught the bullies yelling at Arthur, out of sight in the hallway, as they tucked into fish and chips and McDonald’s with Tustin’s children.
The pair ‘denigrated, debased and dehumanised him’, taking everything he loved away from him as they turned Arthur into a ‘desperately sad, thin, weak, miserable child’.
Tustin and Hughes will be sentenced on Friday.