6-year-old boy was ‘poisoned’ with so much salt he was ‘unable to put up fight’ before death

A court has heard how a 6-year-old boy was “poisoned” with so much salt that he was rendered “unable to put up a fight” before his death.

The Coventry Crown Court where the trial is ongoing, had previously heard that Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was once recorded sobbing: “No one loves me.”
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was said to have been fed more than six spoons worth of salt in his system at the time of his death in June last year.

Thomas Hughes, 29, and his then girlfriend Emma Tustin, 32, are standing trial in court for reportedly killing his son in Solihull.

They have both pleaded not guilty to murder and Tustin has admitted to one count of child cruelty but denied further charges of the same offence. Hughes also denied child cruelty offences.

On Monday, October 18, medical expert Professor Stavros Stivaros was called to give evidence. He said;

“The bleeding I saw in Arthur’s case was in multiple different sites relating to his brain.

“In Arthur’s case the appearance of bleeding is more in keeping with shaking than impact.”

On Tuesday October 19, Dr Roger Malcomson, a consultant paediatric and perinatal pathologist, was called to give evidence on some of the injuries suffered by Arthur. He stated that it was “more likely” Arthur was “repeatedly poisoned with salt contaminated food or fluids” in “brutal controlling circumstances”.

He told the court it was less likely he was given a single portion of salt shortly before he collapsed at the Shirley home on June 16.

Asked whether his raised sodium levels, combined with dehydration, would have contributed to Arthur being “less physically able to resist a fatal assault” the expert witness said:

“That’s my suggestion, yes.

“If he had been suffering health side effects from being poisoned to the extent he is likely to have been in this case, then yes he may not have been able to put up much of a fight.”

He spoke about how Arthur’s thymus, an organ in the immune system in the chest, had shrunk severely. Dr Malcomson said this could have been the result of “repeated and sustained abuse”. He also said the pattern of bruising on the six-year-old’s body was “consistent with inflicted injuries.”

The expert witness had earlier told the jury that Arthur suffered “severe” eye injuries, including a detached retina, “very rarely seen” in child head trauma cases.

Malcomson’s testimony is coming after the court heard how the boy’s stepmum, Tustin, battered the boy and took a picture of his lifeless body before arranging her birthday balloons.

She then messaged Arthur’s dad Thomas Hughes, saying: “Just copped me in the stomach he has thrown himself all over the floor won’t get up for s*** I’ve shut the door on him.”

Coventry Crown Court was shown CCTV of her carrying the “limp” youngster into the living room minutes after inflicting the alleged fatal blow on June 16 last year.

Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said:

“She returns carrying Arthur into the living room. His body is limp.

“Arthur appears to be unconscious. His eyes are closed, body is limp.”

The footage shows Tustin dragging Arthur back into the hallway before she appears to change her mind and places him on the sofa.

Arthur died in hospital the following day with his 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.

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