Emma Tustin, the six-year-old boy’s stepmother, and Thomas Hughes, his father, were sentenced on Friday following his death. Local child services have launched an independent review after it emerged that Arthur had been visited by social workers just two months before his death.
On a by-election visit to north Shropshire yesterday, the Prime Minister said that lessons must be learned from the tragedy.
Ms Tustin was jailed for life after being found guilty of the boy’s murder, while his father was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.
Ms Tustin murdered the boy by causing a fatal head injury in her Solihull home on June 16 last year.
She photographed him lying on the floor and sent the image to Mr Hughes.
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During the trial, the court heard that Arthur had been poisoned with salt, subjected to regular beatings, denied food and drink and made to stand for hours alone in the hallway.
Ms Tustin was said to have injured him fatally by violently shaking Arthur and then repeatedly banging his head on a hard surface.
While Mr Hughes was not present at the time, he was found to be culpable as he “encouraged” violence against his son.
Sentencing, Justice Mark Wall QC told Coventry Crown Court the case was “one of the most distressing and disturbing” he had ever presided over.
The couple’s behaviour was “spiteful and sadistic”, he said, and neither defendant showed any remorse.
While out campaigning for the Tory candidate to replace Owen Paterson, Mr Johnson said: “I just want to say, on the tragic and appalling case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, like many people I find it hard to read it, let alone to understand how people could behave like that to a defenceless little child.
“I’m glad that justice had been done, in the sense that they have both received tough sentences, but that is absolutely no consolation, and what we’ve got to make sure now is we learn the lessons about that case, we look at exactly what happened, what else could have been done to protect that child.
“It is early days, but I can tell you this, we will leave absolutely no stone unturned to find out exactly what went wrong in that appalling case.”
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Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, reinforced the message that the Government would act following the case.
He said: “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.”
He added he would make a statement to the House of Commons on the case on Monday.
Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court that the boy had been seen just two months before his death.
However, social workers had concluded at the time that there were “no safeguarding concerns”.
Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council, said in a statement that he was “deeply shocked and appalled” by the death.
Echoed by the Prime Minister’s sentiments, he added that the Council would “leave no stone unturned to understand, learn and fix any issues that the independent review finds”.
The trial heard that social workers from the council had visited Ms Tustin’s home on April 17, 2020.
The visit was instigated after Arthur’s grandmother – Mr Hughes’ mother, Joanne – rang the emergency social services team to report bruises she had seen on the boy’s back.
When social workers looked at the “faint” bruise, they believed Ms Tustin and Mr Hughes had created a “happy household” and had no cause for concern.