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A "bullying" father and stepmother "poisoned" a six-year-old boy with salt and exposed him to months of "cruel" abuse, a court has heard.

Thomas Hughes, 29, and his girlfriend Emma Tustin, 32, are jointly accused of murder after Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was found with an 'unsurvivable brain injury' at his home in Solihull, Warwickshire.

Prosecutors said despite having her phone, she took 12 minutes to call 999, telling medics Arthur "fell and banged his head and while on the floor banged his head another five times".

Jurors at Coventry Crown Court heard how Arthur was 'physically and verbally abused, isolated, access to food and drink were controlled or restricted, he was deprived of basic living comforts; a bed, clothing '.

The jury was also told that Arthur had been in the sole care of his father after his natural mother, Olivia Labinjo, was convicted of a killing in February 2019.

He added : "It is striking, the prosecution say, that there is no clear evidence of the presence of Arthur living in that house."

He told the jury "Arthur was made to sleep on the living room floor" at Ms Tustin's home in Solihull and after his death, "a duvet was found in a cupboard under the stairs".

Tom Hughes admitted to physically and verbally intimidating Arthur but denies other charges

"And he suffered psychological maltreatment – bullying, in ordinary language."

jurors were shown photographs of arthur in the house as he was 'compelled' into 'forcibly standing in isolation and he would be punished for unauthorised movements, including attempts to sit down '.

On May 6 2020, Hughes texted Tustin, telling her : "Tell him not to move a muscle – put him by the fridge, put him outside or wherever, give him away.

In June last year, Hughes told a neighbour : 'If you hear anyone saying "don't kill me", ignore it, I'm not hurting him. '

Arthur died from serious head injuries sustained at home in Solihull, West Midlands

the pair deny the charges and the trial continues.

Both are also accused of two counts of child cruelty by assault on multiple occasions and also by withholding food and drink.

It is alleged Ms Tustin, 32, of Cranmore Road, carried out the fatal assault while in sole care of Arthur and fetched her mobile phone immediately afterwards to take a photograph of the youngster as he lay dying in the hallway.

Jonas Hankin QC, for the prosecution, told jurors : "You 'll note her account including the suggestion Arthur had headbutted her during the incident, and you will also have noted she felt it necessary to say Arthur had treated them like s**t- in that context, in those circumstances."

Tributes were left to Arthur, who was said to be happy and healthy before the move to Tustin’s (Picture: BPM MEDIA)

Mr Hughes, 29, of Stroud Road, and Ms Tustin allegedly forced Arthur to endure "systematic, cruel behaviour", both "physical and psychological" in the weeks before he died.

One witness said the previously happy and healthy boy looked "as though he were broken" on the day of his death.

Opening the case on Thursday, Mr Hankin said : "His clothes looked dirty, his lips cracked, he could barely open his mouth to speak, his hair was dirty, his nails were dirty and he looked malnourished, gaunt and worn-out."

arthur was "segregated and isolated" for "up to 14 hours a day ”, often made to stay on the step next to the hallway by the front door, and prevented from having food and drink.

Hughes (left) is accused of forcing his son to endure 'physical and psychological' abuse in the weeks before his death

Medical evidence revealed the young boy died from a "head trauma inflicted on him by an adult, the most likely mechanism being that he had been vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface".

Notes from hospital doctors who treated him after his collapse revealed he had also been "poisoned with salt" and had suffered extensive bruising.

The prosecutor said Tustin recorded more than 200 audio files of Arthur in 'various stages of distress ', took pictures and videos of him suffering and sent them to Hughes.

In one, he said, "Please help me, help me uncle, they 're not feeding me, I need some food and a drink".

Emma Tustin allegedly sent Hughes pictures and audio clips of Arthur being punished

Mr Hankin said emergency services were called to reports Arthur had "sustained a self-inflicted head injury at his stepmother's home address", with paramedics noting a "large bruise" on his forehead.

he suffered a cardiac arrest, but medics got his heart beating and rushed him to birmingham children's hospital.

his head injuries were unsurvivable and arthur died shortly before 1am on 17 june.

Hughes denies a similar charge.

Emma Tustin, 32, allegedly took 12 minutes to dial 999 and took photographs of the youngster as he lay dying in the hallway

Hughes and Tustin also face an allegation of child cruelty by administering salt to Arthur between June 1 and 17 last year.

in one example the boy was shown standing by the fridge as punishment, and numerous audio clips were played of him "crying and wailing" for long periods.

Tustin and Hughes exchanged messages referring to Arthur in derogatory terms, and there were "many examples of threats of violence".

Examinations showed Arthur had 'extensive bruising over all parts of his body ', and a CT scan showed bleeding on the brain and 'damage within the brain itself, which was due to a shortage of oxygen and blood supply '.

Mr Hankin told the jury at Coventry Crown Court that 'Arthur was made to sleep on the living room floor' at Tustin's home and that after his death 'a duvet was found in a cupboard under the stairs'

In April 2020, it emerged children's social services and police were alerted by his paternal grandmother to concerns about Arthur's care.

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