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Arthur’s step-mother whinges to prison bosses she is being ‘attacked’ by inmates throwing SALT

A stepmother who was today found guilty of killing a six-year-old boy after poisoning him with salt, beating and starving him, has complained to prison bosses after allegedly being attacked by inmates who have ‘thrown salt’ at her.

Emma Tustin, 32, killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Thomas Hughes starved his son and poisoned him with salt. After killing Arthur, Tustin immediately fetched her mobile phone to take a photograph of him as he lay dying in the hallway. 

Tustin was today 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’.

Tustin and ex-boyfriend Hughes, 29, inflicted a ‘cruel and systematic’ campaign of cruelty’ against Arthur, which included forcing him to stand for up to 14-hours a day alone, depriving him of food and water and poisoning him with salt. 

And today, it has emerged that Tustin had already been attacked by inmates who ‘threw salt’ at her while she was on remand at HMP Peterborough, a criminal justice system source said.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that Tustin’s trial was halted for several days after she took an overdose and was rushed to hospital.

Emma Tustin has already been attacked by inmates ‘throwing salt’ at her after she was today convicted of murdering Arthur Labinjo-Hughes on June 17, 2020

Speaking about the alleged attacks on Tustin, a HMP Peterborough spokesman said: ‘We do not comment on individual prisoners.’

At a pre-trial hearing in April 2021, Tustin’s barrister said her client had been receiving ‘significant and substantial threats’, although it is unclear if she was at the same prison at the time.

Speaking at a hearing on April 15, Mary Prior QC said: ‘She has had a significant deterioration in her mental health.

‘There are significant difficulties for her in that she is currently housed in an environment where she is not receiving medication. And she is receiving substantial and real threats – and violence.’

Ms Prior said Tustin’s legal team had ‘done all we can’ to urge the prison authorities to ‘make it plain’ to safeguard their client’s health and wellbeing, including writing to the governor.

She added: ‘There are weekly conferences and they consist almost entirely of an overwhelmed young lady who is receiving significant and substantial threats and minimal medication.’

Tustin, 32, killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and Thomas Hughes starved his son (both pictured) and poisoned him with salt

Tustin, 32, killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and Thomas Hughes starved his son (both pictured) and poisoned him with salt

Thomas Hughes

Hughes was found guilty of manslaughter – but cleared of murder – for encouraging the killing, including by sending a message to Tustin 18 hours before the assault telling her ‘just end him’

Ms Prior told the presiding judge at the time, Recorder of Birmingham Judge Melbourne Inman QC, she had felt it ‘necessary to say it in open court’ because ‘nothing is changing’.

Speaking at the time, Judge Inman said: ‘The prison estate, I know, are very good at maintaining medication and treatment for those in their care.

‘All I would say is, if there are concerns and problems, the court should be kept informed and, if necessary, we can make inquiries to assist.

‘That is not meant as a criticism of anybody but, obviously, if matters of concern are raised with the court, we will do everything we can to assist – to make sure they are resolved.’

Elsewhere, it was revealed on Thursday that Tustin’s trial was halted for several days after she took an overdose and was rushed to hospital.

Emma Tustin, 32, swallowed several painkillers she had apparently hidden in her bra. She was taken from her cell at Coventry Crown Court last Monday afternoon and taken to hospital, where she remained until last Thursday. 

A source told MailOnline: ‘The case was held up for three days because Tustin was rushed to hospital after overdosing on pills. She swallowed a load of painkillers in one of the court cells during a lunch break last Monday. She’d earlier spent the morning in the dock alongside her co-accused as he gave evidence.

An artist's impression of Tustin and Hughes in court not long before they were convicted of killing him today

An artist’s impression of Tustin and Hughes in court not long before they were convicted of killing him today 

‘She confessed to a member of her legal team about what she had done and an ambulance had to be called to take her to hospital. She was still conscious when she left the cell at Coventry Crown Court in the ambulance.

‘It appears as though she may have been given pills by the prison over a number of days but rather than take them she’d been saving them up and hid them in her bra.’

Tustin and Hughes carried out a horrific ‘campaign of cruelty’ amounting to ‘torture’ against Arthur, in which he was force-fed salt-laced meals, kept isolated in the home, starved, dehydrated and routinely beaten. 

Arthur was pushed into his father’s custody in February 2019 after Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow killed her partner Gary Cunningham, 29, by stabbing him 12 times with a kitchen knife in a drunken rage. 

Hughes met mother-of-four Tustin online and the couple moved with Arthur into her home near Solihull in the West Midlands when the government declared a nationwide lockdown in March 2020.

Madeleine Halcrow said that Tustin was ‘obsessed’ about the idea Thomas would go back to Olivia, and that ‘the only way she could get Olivia out of her life was by getting rid of Arthur’. 

Tustin, who had two of her children taken into care following a suicide attempt, repeatedly complained she could not cope with Arthur’s behaviour during the period of confinement and begged Hughes to let him return to his grandparents. 

The usually ‘chubby, happy’ and ‘always smiley’ boy moved into Tustin’s home at the start of the first national lockdown in March 2020, but one witness described how he looked ‘broken’ just before his death less than three months later.

Elsewhere, it was revealed that Tustin's trial was halted for several days after she took an overdose and was rushed to hospital

Elsewhere, it was revealed that Tustin’s trial was halted for several days after she took an overdose and was rushed to hospital 

Tustin admitted two counts of child cruelty during the harrowing trial in Coventry, including carrying out three assaults on the boy and also making him sit or stand in her hallway for up to 14 hours a day as part of a behavioural regime.

She accepted making 200 audio recordings of Arthur, often crying and moaning during these punishments, claiming she did so only to send them to Hughes in order to demonstrate the boy’s ‘naughty’ behaviour while he was absent.

Some of these extracts have been played to the court, including one in which the boy can be heard saying ‘no-one loves me’, and another in which he cried ‘no-one’s gonna feed me’.

Hughes, in evidence, had alleged Tustin ‘mentally abused’ and ‘gaslighted’ him into complying with the punishing disciplinary regime, but also admitted lying to school staff who were checking on Arthur’s progress during the first Covid lockdown.

He previously said he had ‘probably’ placed the couple’s relationship above the welfare of his son.

Tests later revealed Arthur had also been ‘poisoned with salt’ in the hours before his collapse, while a post-mortem examination found the youngster had suffered about 130 separate injuries. 

Tustin, who has accepted being cruel to Arthur on occasions and was pregnant with Hughes’ unborn child at the time, has said she was ‘disgusted and ashamed’ by her admitted behaviour.

But she callously claimed that Arthur’s fatal head injury must have been self-inflicted, possibly caused by him throwing himself down the staircase in her hallway, and describing how she heard a ‘bang’ and a ‘crack’. 

During her evidence, she said that just because medical experts had concluded Arthur’s death had been caused by head trauma ‘inflicted upon him by an adult’, that ‘doesn’t make it true’.


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