February 7, 2023

The murderous father of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes today increased his sentence for manslaughter by three years after the appeals court ruled it was unreasonable.

Thomas Hughes will now serve a minimum of 24 years in prison for the sickening crime, which sparked a national outpouring of grief.

Attorney General Suella Braverman had also challenged the 29-year minimum term given to Arthur’s stepmother, Emma Tustin. But today, the judges refused to change the term and concluded that she would not receive a life sentence.

Today Lord Burnett of Maldon ruled that Hughes had “encouraged” Tustin to torture and then kill Arthur.

Thomas Hughes (left) will now serve a minimum of 24 years in prison for murdering Arthur Labinjo-Hughes after months of abuse. Emma Tustin (right) did not increase her sentence

Six-year-old Arthur was beaten, tortured and then murdered by Tustin at her home in Solihull

Lord Burnett said in today’s verdict: ‘We believe the Attorney General’s argument regarding manslaughter is well founded that encouraging Tustin to harm Arthur the way he did there was considerable risk that she would do something that would kill him.’

He continued: ‘The manslaughter was full of aggravating features, including as serious a breach of trust as one can imagine involving a little boy who was particularly vulnerable, not least as a result of Hughes’s own behavior. He lied to Arthur’s school to keep him at home to protect both himself and Tustin.’

The judge added: “Without the atrocities, the manslaughter would have deserved a sentence of 18 years or more. The judge held that the crime was just short of murder and, as we have said, the risk of death, given the foregoing conduct, was real.

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“In our view, the appropriate punishment is a 24-year prison term to account for all violations.”

Six-year-old Arthur was beaten, tortured and then murdered by Tustin at her home in Solihull.

In May, senior judges heard objections or appeals against the jail terms of five convicted murderers. In addition to Tustin, 32, and Hughes, 29, these were also the killers of Sarah Everard, Wayne Couzens and Ian Stewart, who murdered children’s book author Helen Bailey.

Couzens’ life order was maintained today, but Stewart’s was reduced from a whole life order to life with a minimum term of 35 years.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes woke up hours before collapsing from fatal injuries on CCTV

Tustin and Hughes’ trial revealed that Arthur was seen by social workers during the first national lockdown, just two months before his death in Solihull, West Midlands, last June.

But they concluded there were “no protection concerns” and closed the file.

Tustin and Hughes starved the boy, forced him to salt-laden dishes and left him alone for more than 14 hours a day, in a humiliating, punitive and hellish regime during the last painful months of his life.

He was left with an insurmountable brain injury while in the exclusive care of his father’s “evil” partner Tustin.

Arthur, whose body was also covered in 130 bruises, died in hospital the next day.

The photo taken by Arthur’s paternal grandmother sparked a social services reference, but the bruises were attributed to “game fights” with another youngster

“Manipulative” and “calculating” Tustin was unanimously convicted after an eight-week trial in which the boy’s “ruthless” father, Hughes, was found guilty of manslaughter after encouraging the murder.

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Hughes’ “infatuation” for Tustin had “erased any love for his son,” said judge, Justice Mark Wall, QC, and jailed him for 21 years.

Ms Braverman referred the case to the Court of Appeals and said: ‘This is an extremely disturbing and disturbing case, involving a clearly vulnerable young child.

Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have grossly abused their position of trust and subjected an innocent child they should have been protecting to constant emotional and physical abuse.

“I understand how disturbing the public has found this case, but it is my job to decide, based on the facts of the case, whether a sentence seems too lenient.

“I have carefully considered the details of this case and have decided to refer the sentences to the Court of Appeal as I think they are too low.”