Father accused of killing son, 6, ‘deprived him of water during heatwave’

A ‘bullying’ father accused of murdering his son in a brutal ‘campaign of cruelty’ knocked on his neighbour’s door fearing ‘they might jump to the wrong conclusions’ after his son screamed ‘daddy’s going to kill me,’ a court has heard. 

Thomas Hughes, 29, and his partner Emma Tustin, 32, allegedly subjected Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, to ‘systematic, cruel behaviour’, including poisoning him with salt and ‘forcing’ it down as well as depriving the boy of water during a heatwave while making him stand for 14 hours a day.

Little Arthur was allegedly ordered to sleep on the floor and ‘deprived of basic living comforts’ after moving into stepmother Tustin’s home in Solihull, West Midlands, during the first Covid lockdown.

The youngster was found with 125 areas of bruising on his body after dying from unsurvivable brain injuries in June 2020.

Tustin and Hughes both deny murder. Tustin has admitted one count of child cruelty but denies three others. Hughes denies four counts of child cruelty.

At Coventry Crown Court on Friday, Hughes was accused of depriving Arthur of water while making him stand in isolation during a heatwave.

Hughes was questioned over his interview with detectives in which he detailed hitting and slapping his son.

In one extract he told officers he had hit Arthur ‘if he just looked at me’, instead of getting up off the floor.

He said: ‘I would slap him. That was seven or eight in force. It was hard. I’m not proud of it.

‘If he was lying on his back I didn’t want to keep picking him up.

‘I would put a foot on his stomach almost to try and take the wind out of him. It paints me in a different light altogether. 

‘That would only be a three or four out of ten. Just so I didn’t have to keep picking him up. 

‘This paints me as a monster, I’m aware.’

Hughes told officers they were dealing with a case of ‘discipline gone too far’ and revealed he targeted a pressure point on Arthur’s neck for up to 10 seconds. 

Giving evidence, Hughes also admitted telling police that Arthur would ‘cower in the corner’ as he went to hit him.

The boy was forced to stand ‘all day, every day’ while suffering abuse which matched the ‘medical definition of child torture’, prosecutors claim.  

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