A YOUNG boy murdered by his mum and stepdad had almost 100 injuries after suffering abuse "designed to terrorise", a court heard today.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, was allegedly subjected to a "campaign of cruelty" before his death that matched the “medical definition of child torture”.
His dad Thomas Hughes, 29, and his partner Emma Tustin, 32, are accused of murdering the youngster, who suffered an "unsurvivable brain injury".
Coventry Crown Court heard today how Arthur was covered in bruises from his head to his feet.
He had 93 areas of injury – including on his head, arms, legs, feet and torso – and 25 sites of bruising on his scalp, face, and neck that raised “serious concerns about non-accidental injury”.
The youngster was also found to have 20 areas of bruising on his arms and eight on his chest and stomach, it was said.
Giving evidence, Dr Lyle told jurors: “I’m not sure that outside of obvious traumatic situations I’ve ever seen a child found dead at home with this number of injuries to the head and face.”
Tustin allegedly beat Arthur to death then waited 13 minutes to call 999 and tell them the youngster was "barely breathing" after he "headbutted the floor".
Arthur died in hospital the next day with a cause of death given as a "head trauma inflicted on him by an adult" consistent with being "vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface".
He was subjected to a "campaign of cruelty" before his death that matched the “medical definition of child torture”, it is said.
Doctors found he was poisoned with so much salt he was "unable to put up a fight" before his death, jurors heard.
The court was told the youngster had more than six spoons worth of the substance in his system – the highest level a medic had ever seen.
He was also allegedly "segregated and isolated" for "up to 14 hours a day" and deprived of a bed, food and clothing.
Catherine Milhench previously told the court the boy looked "skeletal" and claimed she could see his "collar bones sticking out" through his pyjama onesie.
Her partner Tobias Jarman told jurors Arthur looked "malnourished" when he saw him during the visit to his house on June 16 last year.
The witness, who "snuck" the boy a glass of water, described Arthur's appearance as: "Lips dry, cracked lips. The build-up of plaque on his teeth was considerable.
"Dirty fingernails. He just looked quite grotty. As if he'd been out playing in the garden, that hadn't been the case. Just malnourished. Just unwell really."
Mr Jarman said he "tried to reassure" Arthur as he gave him the water and told him he didn't have to be scared of him.
He added: "He look petrified. It was not the normal glow you see in a kid's eyes of that age.
"It looked like there was fear ingrained inside of there."
The court was told Tustin recorded more than 22 pictures and videos of Arthur in distress.
Jurors have watched CCTV of Tustin tucking into McDonald's while Arthur was left in a hallway for 14 hours and forced to sleep on the floor.
They have also previously heard audio clips Tustin recorded of Arthur sobbing while allegedly being abused.
The youngster can be heard weeping in another recording for his uncle Blake, saying: "Blake no-one loves me, Blake no-one loves me."
He also cried in one clip: "Daddy's going to throw me out the window, daddy's going to throw me out the window, daddy's going to throw me out of the window."
'CAMPAIGN OF CRUELTY'
Tustin and Hughes are accused of multiple counts of child cruelty, after forcing Arthur to endure "systematic, cruel behaviour" of "physical and psychological" abuse in the weeks before his death.
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said: "Both defendants participated in a campaign of cruelty intended to cause Arthur significant harm and suffering.
"Violence and intimidation, both physical and verbal, were routine.
“Arthur’s visible injuries, his miserable physical condition and obvious despair provided each defendant with a daily reminder of the lengths to which the other would go to cause him harm.”
Jurors heard how Arthur's death came three months after his father had moved into Tustin's home.
Before the move, the youngster was "cherished by all" and lived a "stable" life with his father and extended family, in an annexe in the garden of Arthur's paternal grandparents.
He had been placed in his dad's care after his mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 26, was jailed for 18 years for stabbing her boyfriend to death.
In April 2020, it emerged children's social services and police were alerted by his grandmother to concerns about Arthur's care.
Family had seen bruises on Arthur's back, and he said Tustin had "called him an ugly, horrible brat" and shoved him headfirst into the stairs.
After children's services saw Arthur on April 17, "no concerns were raised", and while photos of the bruises were sent to the police, no further action was taken, it was said.
Tustin has admitted child cruelty by ill-treating Arthur on multiple occasions by "forcing him to stand, isolating him within the family home, and physically or verbally intimidating him".
Hughes denies a similar charge.
The pair also deny murder and an allegation of child cruelty by administering salt to Arthur between June 1 and 17 last year.
Both are jointly accused of two counts of child cruelty by assault on multiple occasions and also by withholding food and/or drink.
The trial continues.
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