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Father alleged to have murdered son, 6, sent texts threatening to ‘take his jaw off his shoulders’

The Independent
The Independent
 2021-10-08

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A father accused of murdering his six-year-old son sent a text saying he would “take his f***ing jaw straight off his shoulders”, a jury heard.

Prosecutors allege Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was killed by his father, Thomas Hughes, 29, and his girlfriend, Emma Tustin, 32, last June after being poisoned with salt and subject to months of abuse.

On the second day of a trial at Coventry Crown Court, jurors were shown WhatsApp messages between the accused pair. They were also played dozens of Tustin's mobile phone audio recordings of Arthur crying, and shown pictures of bruising to his shoulders.

Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting, showed pre-lockdown photos of Arthur, including ones of him at a McDonald's and playing in a park.

He read excerpts from a message in which Hughes reacted to an audio clip by saying: “I will deal with him when I'm home and it won't be pretty.”

It was then suggested in a message that Arthur be put “out with the rubbish” before Tustin described the boy as being “on one”.

Hughes was said to have replied: “Won't be when I take his ****ing jaw straight off his shoulders”.

Another message from Tustin, sent on 23 May last year, read: “I don't think I can do this any more. He shuts up as soon as you come through the door. He is malicious, cruel and just generally awful.”

A video filmed by Tustin the next day, lasting just over a minute, showed Arthur sitting on a tiled floor, wearing a Batman T-shirt, as he slapped himself in the face and raised his foot to his own head in a kicking motion. After being sent a photo of Arthur, Hughes said: “He's an absolute disgrace. That's not my son.”

Arthur was placed in his father’s care after his mother was jailed for killing her boyfriend. Jurors earlier heard that he was killed three months after his father moved into Tustin’s home on Cranmore Road, Solihull , West Midlands.

Tustin is alleged to have killed Arthur by banging his head against a hard surface while alone with him at her home.

Prosecutors claim she immediately fetched her phone to take a photograph of the dying child but did not call 999 for 12 minutes. She was said to have told medics Arthur “fell and banged his head and while on the floor banged his head another five times”. She said in the phone call that Arthur treated her and Hughes “like s***”, Mr Hankin said.

Hughes and Tustin are both charged with murder along with child cruelty for administering salt to Arthur between 1 and 17 June last year.

They deny the charges. The trial continues and will hear further evidence next week.

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