Arthur Labinjo-Hughes' harrowing plight is clear in the distressing audio audio tapes.
Trigger Warning: The story contains graphic details of child abuse and torture that readers may find disturbing.
Just moments before his tragic death last year, Arthur Labinjo-Hughes cried, "No one loves me...No one's gonna feed me." The six-year-old boy's plight was only revealed recently when it was far too late. The distressing audio of the young child was played during the trial of his father Thomas Hughes and partner Emma Tustin, who now face murder charges in addition to other child cruelty charges. Although the pair have denied having killed the boy, the jury revealed that Arthur died of brain injury on June 17, 2020, after collapsing at Tustin's home in Solihull, West Midlands, while they were alone.
The Coventry Crown Court heard the harrowing "campaign of cruelty" that Arthur was subjected to in the months that led to his untimely death. It is alleged that 29-year-old Hughes and 32-year-old Tustin forcefully fed the child salt-laced meals, kept him isolated at home, starved, and dehydrated him. Arthur was also subjected to routine beatings. At the time of his death, Tustin claimed that Arthur's head injury was self-inflicted and that he sustained it by possibly throwing himself down the staircase in the hallway, a place where he had to spend "12 to 14 hours a day" as a part of the couple's startling behavioral regime, reports BBC.
Tustin has accepted recording over 200 audio files every time Arthur was punished. She told that the court that the audiotapes were a way to show her partner how his son had been behaving. Two of these heartwrenching audio files have now been made public. In one of them, the young boy can be heard saying, "no-one loves me" and repeating the phrase four times in a 23-second time frame. In the second, 44-second clip, he cries, "no-one's gonna feed me," seven times. The internal CCTV camera also captured the frail stature of Arthur in a video that was recorded hours before he collapsed.
The footage, which was also released by the West Midlands Police, shows the six-year-old struggling to even pick up and put away his pillow and blanket after waking up around 8:36 a.m. What's worse, the child did not even have his own bed and would sleep on the lounge floor without a mattress. Clearly, he suffered a great deal even towards the end of his end but Hughes and Tustin continue to maintain that they didn't cause his death despite it being revealed that Arthur had 130 injuries all over his body, both fresh and old ones.
The child's uncle, Blake Hughes, told the court last month that the youngster broke out in tears after telling him how Tustin pushed him against a wall and branded him ugly. "He said his mum didn’t love him and had abandoned him. He then started to break out crying. He went on to say nobody loved him," Blake shared. The prosecution alleged that it was Tustin who administered the fatal assault, resulting in the boy's demise. According to the Independent, his head was banged "repeatedly against a hard surface" that ultimately led to his death. The boy's father is equally held responsible for it as he is accused of aiding the killing.
He recently admitted using "pressure points on Arthur‘s neck to discipline him" after watching videos of police brutality online. Hughes now faced three counts of child cruelty but denied any wrongdoings. As for Tustin, she had admitted to one count of child cruelty but continues to deny two other similar charges as well as denies murder. Prosecutor Jonas Hankin alleged that the pair caused the boy "significant harm and suffering" by routinely physically and verbally abusing him. "Neither can begin to justify what they did to him. Arthur was a defenseless child entirely dependent on them for his well-being. Arthur became a target for derision, abuse, and systematic cruelty designed to cause him significant physical and mental suffering for reasons which are unfathomable," added Hankin. The trial continues.
Cover image source: YouTube Screenshot | ITV News