Inmates 'spike Arthur's stepmother's meals with SALT'

Inmates ‘spike Arthur’s stepmother’s meals with SALT’: Inmates ‘take revenge by lacing her food’ after tortured six-year-old’s body was found to have ‘off the charts’ levels of sodium before he was murdered

  • Former cellmate of Emma Tustin said prisoners have been lacing meals with salt
  • Tustin was jailed for life with 29 year minimum for killing Arthur Labinjo-Hughes
  • She poisoned stepson, 6, with salt before battering him to death at Solihull home

Child killer Emma Tustin who tortured her stepson to death has had her meals laced with salt by her cellmates in revenge for the abuse she carried out on the six-year-old before she battered him to death, it has been claimed.

The 32-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years on Friday after she was convicted of murdering six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at her home in Solihull, West Midlands.

His father, Thomas Hughes, was also jailed for 21 years after being convicted of manslaughter for encouraging the killing, including by sending a text message to Tustin hours before the fatal assault telling her ‘just end him’.

As it was revealed the Government will launch a major review into his death, Tustin’s former cellmate has now claimed that inmates housed with Tustin at Eastwood Park Prison laced her meals with salt as revenge for the horrific abuse she inflicted on Arthur. 

Meanwhile, the devastated grandfather of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has said ‘no punishment could be enough’ for the youngster’s evil killers as he reconsiders his opposition to the death penalty.

Peter Halcrow, 61, of Dunkeld, Perthshire, said Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have ‘forfeited their right to live’ and should ‘never see the light of day again’ following his beloved grandsons horrific death. 

Through a harrowing nine-week trial at Coventry Crown Court, it was revealed Tustin forced Arthur to consume ‘an absolute minimum’ of 34 grams hours before she battered him to death.


Emma Tustin, 32, (left) killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Thomas Hughes starved the youngster and poisoned him with salt


It was revealed Arthur had been made to consume at least 34g of salt in the hours before his death leading to a sodium level which was ‘off the scale’ by the time he reached hospital

The trial heard Arthur was found to have the equivalent of six teaspoons of salt in his blood, leading to hospital readings which were ‘off the scale’.

Analysis of Arthur’s blood upon his admission to hospital recorded sodium levels between 180 and 187.2 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) – a normal range of sodium is around 140 mmol/L.

Children’s kidney consultant Dr Malcolm Coulthard said the results indicated a ‘massive dose’ of salt was given to the boy and that poisoning was the only available diagnosis.

He calculated that Arthur must have consumed 34g of salt as an ‘absolute minimum’ to record a reading of above 180 mmol/L.

The trial was told that the reading could only be explained by ingesting large quantities of salt in the hours before he was taken to hospital. 

As a response to the abuse, Tustin’s cellmates have been spiking her meals with salt at Eastwood Park Prison, it has been claimed.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with father Thomas Hughes and Emma Tustin who has been convicted of murder while Hughes, 29, is guilty of manslaughter after a trial at Coventry Crown Court

Her former cellmate, Elaine Pritchard, told the Sunday Mirror: ‘Some of the things we did were cruel – but she was crueller to Arthur so she deserved it.’

Elaine spent six weeks locked up with Tustin while she was on remand and also told the newspaper Tustin never mentioned Arthur and instead claimed she was in prison because Hughes had ‘neglected’ his son. 

Elaine, who was recalled to prison for battery and criminal damage, told the publication: ‘Emma hadn’t said anything about Arthur dying. She never mentioned him.’

She claimed she only found out about Tustin’s charges after finding her case paperwork, with Elaine saying she grew ‘angry’ after reading about Arthur’s 130 bruises, resulting in the pair having a row.

She said she asked Tustin how she didn’t notice Arthur’s bruising while giving him a bath, to which she alleged Tustin responded that she ‘gave him a towel’.

Elaine, who also gave evidence at Tustin’s trial, added: ‘I pressed the bell and said if the prison officers didn’t get her out then I’d be staying there a long time.’

Ex-children’s minister: ‘We have a duty to put this right’ after Arthur’s murder 

The murder of a six-year-old boy by his stepmother should prompt change around social care, a former children’s minister has suggested.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of 32-year-old Emma Tustin, who was on Friday jailed for life after being convicted of murder by assaulting the defenceless child in Solihull on June 16, 2020.

Ex-children’s minister Tim Loughton said ‘we’ all have a ‘duty’ to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises following his death.

‘Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service,’ the Tory MP wrote in The Sun.

‘Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.

‘This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently and a duty to make sure it is.’

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court that the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’.

Tustin was moved to a different cell, but inmates began lacing her meals with salt after learning about how she had poisoned Arthur, Elaine claimed.

Last week, it was reported Tustin had complained that inmates were throwing salt at her while she was on remand at HMP Peterborough.

During the trial, the court heard that Tustin had tried to take an overdose and attempted to hang herself to avoid facing punishment for murdering tragic Arthur.

Her solicitor, Mary Prior QC, described her as a ‘high suicide risk’ and added that she had been ‘obliged to terminate a pregnancy.’

Tustin was pregnant with Hughes’ baby when she violently attacked Arthur, undergoing an abortion in custody at 21 weeks.

Mr Justice Mark Walll QC slammed the pair as he jailed them, saying the case was ‘without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing’ he has ever dealt with.

He said: ‘This cruel and inhuman treatment of Arthur was a deliberate decision by you to brush off his cries for help as naughtiness.’

Addressing Tustin, he continued: ‘You are a manipulative woman who will tell any lie, and shift the blame onto anyone, to save your own skin.’ 

The shameless stepmother refused to leave her cell to face justice for her campaign of horror on the youngster.

It comes as Arthur’s devastated family, friends and neighbours gathered near the tragic six-year-old’s home for a heartbreaking vigil yesterday afternoon.

The murdered youngster’s grandmother was among those who burst into tears as they paid tribute to him down the road from where his sick stepmother and father killed him in Solihull, West Midlands.

Mourners laid flowers, teddies and emotional messages as well as let off balloons as they remembered the boy’s short life.

The harrowing scenes come as Arthur’s uncle released a new video of the child where he talked about how he dreamt of becoming a professional footballer.

Mourners laid flowers, teddies and emotional messages as well as letting off balloons as they remembered the boy’s short life during an emotional vigil held in Solihull on Sunday afternoon

Daniel Hughes, the boy’s paternal uncle, said he wanted his nephew to be remembered like this – talking about playing for Liverpool, Tottenham and England.

Meanwhile the government confirmed it would launch major review into the circumstances which led to Arthur’s death. 

It aims to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with Arthur in the months before he was murdered by stepmother Emma Tustin at their home in Solihull.

The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will lead the review and will provide additional support to Solihull Children’s Safeguarding Partnership to ‘upgrade’ the already existing local review which was launched shortly after Arthur’s death in June 2020.

The action comes after it emerged in court the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation.

‘I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.

The emotional scenes came after the government confirmed it would launch major review into the circumstances which led to Arthur’s death which examine what lessons can be learned

Pictured: People gather to pay tribute to six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes outside Emma Tustin’s former home in Solihull, West Midlands, during an emotional vigil on Sunday afternoon

Football also continued to send its support to him, with Norwich City versus Tottenham showing a picture of him and the text ‘you are loved’ on the big screen during their match in London

‘I have taken immediate action and asked for a joint inspection to consider where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in Solihull, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes.

‘Given the enormity of this case, the range of agencies involved and the potential for its implications to be felt nationally, I have also asked Annie Hudson, chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, to work with leaders in Solihull to deliver a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case.

‘We are determined to protect children from harm and where concerns are raised we will not hesitate to take urgent and robust action. We will not rest until we have the answers we need.’

The Children’s Commissioner for England also said yesterday the voices of children ‘must’ be listened to when asked about the boy’s killing.

Dame Rachel de Souza said more must be done to support social workers to spot similar cases, but the coronavirus lockdown has ‘weakened’ the system.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ devastated family, friends and neighbours gathered near the tragic six-year-old’s home for a heartbreaking vigil this afternoon

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’. 

New figures showed that nearly 50,000 vulnerable children may have ‘dropped off the radar’ of social services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of new cases referred to children’s services departments fell by 45,220 – or 7 per cent – from 2019-20 to 2020-21. 

The total dropped to 597,760 for the year to March 2021, the lowest figure since records began in 2013.  By contrast, the total for 2018-19, before the pandemic, was 650,930.

The Department for Education said the sharp reduction was driven by a fall in referrals from schools, which were closed for most pupils during lockdown.

Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said the pandemic had put vulnerable children such as Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at greater risk.

‘There was an increase in child abuse because of course they were off the radar,’ he told the Daily Telegraph. 

A former children’s commissioner also suggested the lockdown helped Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes carry out their reign of terror largely unchecked.

Meanwhile, the devastated grandfather of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has said ‘no punishment could be enough’ for the youngster’s evil killers as he reconsiders his opposition to the death penalty.

Peter Halcrow, 61, of Dunkeld, Perthshire, said Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have ‘forfeited their right to live’ and should ‘never see the light of day again’ following his beloved grandsons horrific death. 

Grandfather of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes Peter Halcrow (above), 61, of Dunkeld, Perthshire, said Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have ‘forfeited their right to live’

He said: ‘They must never see the light of day again. No punishment could ever be enough for this pair.’

‘I have never favoured the death penalty because I know mistakes can be made by courts, but in my view they have forfeited their right to live’, he told The Sun. 

‘It will burden taxpayers but, as we don’t have capital punishment, they should certainly never leave prison as long as they live for such cruelty and inhumanity.’

The youngster’s grandfather, who runs a cafe, said he was ‘shocked and mystified’ that Tustin and Thomas were able to get away with their evil abuse without an urgent safeguarding concern being raised by social workers. 

Peter is the father of Arthur’s biological mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 29, who killed her partner Gary Cunningham by stabbing him 12 times with a kitchen knife in a drunken rage in February 2019.

She was found guilty of manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court in July 2021 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. 

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