A monster stepmother was today jailed for life for torturing, starving and beating a defenseless six-year-old to death before mocking him as he begged for help and lay dying – as the pitiless father who forced him to live in hell was handed 21 years.
Cowardly Emma Tustin refused to come into the dock to face justice for murdering terrified and helpless Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by savagely shaking his head and slamming it against the walls, floor or both.
Hours earlier she had attempted to kill by forcing him to drink a lethal ‘salt slurry’ but when that failed, she left him with injuries ‘equivalent to a high-speed crash’.
It followed months of ‘unimaginable suffering’ at the hands of the sadistic 32-year-old and the boy’s father, Thomas Hughes, 29.
Judge Mr Justice Mark Wall QC told Tustin the minimum term before her case is considered by a parole board is 29 years. If they do not decide to release her, she will spend the rest of her life in prison.
Hughes will serve two thirds of his term in custody before being released.
Tustin and Hughes starved the youngster, force-fed him salt-laden dishes and made him to stand alone for more than 14 hours a day, in a degrading, punishing and hellish regime over the last painful months of his life.
Throughout the trial Tustin showed no remorse and Arthur’s grandmother noted: ‘The only pity she has shown is for herself.’
The sickened judge told Tustin, who has four children – two of whom were taken into care: ‘You are a manipulative woman who will tell any lie and shift blame onto anyone to save her own skin.
Mr Wall said Tustin’s own children, ‘lived a perfectly happy normal life in that household while this appalling cruelty to Arthur was taking place.
Arthur’s biological mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 29, spoke of her torment at his death. Her statement was delivered by her mother, Madeleine Halcrow, who regularly paused after bursting into tears.
‘He was just a child, he had no-one to talk to, no one to ask for help when he was scared and needed protecting the most,’ said Ms Labinjo-Halcrow, who is serving 11 years in prison for killing her partner.
‘My son’s bright blue, effervescent eyes lost their sparkle and they weren’t smiling anymore. They took his sparkle and his naivety from him and then they took him from this world.
‘A child, my child, my little love defenceless, trusting and nothing but loving was killed. His short life was stolen – he will never see another Christmas, another birthday.’