The stepmother who was convicted of murdering Arthur Labinjo-Hughes must be granted a life-long order and a sentencing review in the Court of Appeal has heard.
Emma Tustin was jailed for at least 29 years. Arthur’s dad Thomas Hughes got 21 years for manslaughter.
The couple are appealing their sentences in jail, that are also being challenged for excessively lenient.
Six-year-old Arthur suffered a fatal brain injury while under custody of Tustin living at home with her in Solihull.The couple’s trial in Coventry Crown Court in December found that Arthur was poisoned by salt, subjected to frequent beatings, refused drinking and food and forced to remain for hours in the hallway at Tustin’s home.
In the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Tom Little QC, representing the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Tustin’s lawyer, said that the instance “merited in the minimum the consideration of a life-long order”. “This was, we agree it, not a simple sentencing procedure. The trial was clearly an harrowing experience for everyone involved,” he said.Arthur was “subjected to the greatest suffering” He declared, adding that “This was an extremely grave case of child murder in the backdrop of this brutality.”
The 30 year starting point for her sentence must have been substantially extended, he wrote.
Mary Prior QC, acting for Tustin the defendant, stated that the sentencing judge had taken an “fair and appropriate approach in this challenging case” and that the “toxicity that existed” that existed between them led to an environment where each committed abuse to Arthur.
“At the most basic level, Thomas Hughes was encouraging Emma Tustin to be cruel, to assault and maltreatment his son,” she added.Bernard Richmond QC, the lawyer for Hughes in the case, argued that the judge made an error and was “treble counting” when calculating the sentence.