‘Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes grossly abused their position and subjected an innocent child to emotional and physical abuse,’ says attorney general
Jail sentences handed to the father and stepmother of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes for killing the six-year-old have been referred to the Court of Appeal for being too lenient, attorney-general Suella Braverman has announced.
Arthur was starved, poisoned, beaten, abused and murdered by his stepmother, 32-year-old Emma Tustin, who was jailed earlier this month for life with a minimum term of 29 years.
His father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter. Both offenders were also convicted of child cruelty.
Arthur was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of Tustin, who fatally assaulted him with severe force at their home in Solihull in June last year before he died in hospital the following day, Coventry Crown Court heard.
“Manipulative” and “calculating” Tustin was unanimously convicted after an eight-week trial trial.
Jailing the pair at Birmingham Crown Court, Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said the trial had been “without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases I have had to deal with”.
The court previously heard how Tustin repeatedly banged Arthur’s head on a hard surface in the hours leading up to his death, after she and Hughes carried out a campaign of abuse, including force-feeding him food covered in salt.
It emerged at the trial that Arthur had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, after concerns were raised by his paternal grandmother Joanne Hughes, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.
The government launched a national review of lessons to be learnt from the boy’s death.
Referring the case to the Court of Appeal, Ms Braverman said: “This is an extremely upsetting and disturbing case, involving a clearly vulnerable young child.
“Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes grossly abused their position of trust and subjected an innocent child, who they should have been protecting, to continued emotional and physical abuse.
“I understand how distressing the public have found this case, but it is my job to decide if a sentence appears to be unduly lenient based on the facts of the case.
“I have carefully considered the details of this case, and I have decided to refer the sentences to the Court of Appeal as I believe them to be too low.”
The Unduly Lenient Sentencing scheme allows victims of crime, their families, prosecutors and the public to ask law officers to review sentences for certain crimes that fall within the scheme that they believe are too low.
A date for the hearing at the Court of Appeal is yet to be set.