Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Father and stepmother's prison sentences for killing to be reviewed

Football fans across the UK applauded Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, while his favourite team, Birmingham City, stopped play in the sixth minute of their match to remember the schoolboy, reports ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

Warning: Some readers may find this article distressing

The prison sentences given to the father and stepmother of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes for his killing are to be reviewed, the attorney general has confirmed.On Friday, the pair were jailed for a combined total of 50 years after they subjected the schoolboy to months of physical abuse.

Arthur’s father, 29-year-old Thomas Hughes, must serve at least 21 years for the manslaughter of his son, after he suffered an "unsurvivable brain injury" on June 16, 2020.

His stepmother, Emma Tustin, carried out the murder while in the sole care of Arthur at her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, violently shaking him and repeatedly banging his head - likely against the hallway wall, floor or door, the court heard.

Arthur suffered an "unsurvivable" brain injury and died in hospital the next day, June 17, 2020.

31-year-old Tustin was sentenced to at least 29 years.

ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman covered the trial and filed this report on Friday after the pair were jailed for Arthur's killing

This video contains distressing images

Sentencing the pair, Justice Mark Wall QC said the trial had been "without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases I have had to deal with".

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) confirmed on Saturday afternoon that the sentences are to be reviewed to “determine whether they were too low”.

The AGO has 28 days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme, and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal.

A spokesperson for the AGO said: “The Attorney General’s thoughts are with those who loved Arthur. I can confirm that the sentences given to Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have been referred to the Attorney General for review to determine whether they were too low.”

The Court of Appeal then makes the decision about the sentence.

It comes after Arthur's MP, Julian Knight said he would be referring the sentences for review.

Solihull MP Julian Knight was among those leaving flowers outside Arthur’s home on Saturday Credit: Bradley Collyer/PA

"There's a palpable sense of real loss and tragedy over this and also frankly, a sense of anger and questions as to how this was allowed to happen and how these monsters were allowed to inflict this horrible torture on this young, defenceless boy," the Conservative MP said.

"My view is very simple: we need to get to the bottom of how this happened and we need to ensure that those who failed him are held accountable, but also, I think anyone reflecting on those sentences yesterday thinks they were too lenient and my intention is to try to refer this to the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme as soon as possible and I will be doing that on Monday morning."

Separately, a petition calling for Tustin and Hughes to be given whole life orders has received more than 117,000 signatures in just one day.

Whole-life orders are the most severe punishment available in the UK for those who commit the most serious crimes.

There are more than 60 criminals serving whole life orders, including Wayne Couzens, the police officer who raped and murdered Sarah Everard.

Anyone given a whole life order will never be considered for release, unless there are exceptional compassionate grounds to warrant it.

Also on Saturday, tributes to Arthur were held at football matches across the country, including a minutes' applause as the schoolboy's favourite team, Birmingham City, took on Millwall.

It came as experts said Arthur should have been the top priority of local social services.

Wendy Thorogood, director of the Association of Child Protection Professionals, said the murder of Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises, was a “society responsibility”.

She told Times Radio: “He should (have been at the top of social services’ priority list) and you would have expected them to actually look at his history, but unfortunately they go on what they see at that moment in time.

“I can’t comment on what they actually witnessed but you have to remember he was at the hands of quite cruel people who could manipulate him, his environment and professionals.

“I would have expected any assessment to really take account of the grandmother’s photos, I would have expected to have conversations… with Arthur, and that appears to have been missed.”

Ms Thorogood said that Arthur was not getting “additional” oversight from school and education as the incident took place during the coronavirus lockdown.

She added: “I feel they took probably the assessment he was out happy, playing, a boy being boisterous.

“I would have expected any bruises that had been shown would have actually been shared with health to actually have a view as well as to where the injury was.

“The biggest thing is to actually speak with the child and I can’t say whether or not that actually happened.

“Equally, it’s a society responsibility, in relation to his cries were so abnormal if we’d had an anonymous call from one of the neighbours that could have given them more power to do the investigation.

“He wasn’t on a child protection list, he wasn’t one of the children that you would have considered to be a priority.”

Lord Laming, who led the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie and reviewed the case of baby Peter Connelly, said social workers must be properly trained and supported.

The peer also warned the financial cuts of the past decade had taken their toll.

It came as football fans applauded during the sixth minute of the West Ham vs Chelsea game as a picture of Arthur was shown on a screen.

More tributes were paid by Coventry City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Aston Villa will do the same during Sunday’s clash with Leicester.

Ex-children’s minister Tim Loughton said “we” all have a “duty” to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur.

“Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service,” the Tory MP wrote in The Sun.

“Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.

“This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently and a duty to make sure it is.”

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said ministers will leave “absolutely no stone unturned” to establish what went wrong in the “appalling” case.

'I’m glad that justice had been done'

Speaking during a by-election campaign visit in north Shropshire, Mr Johnson said: “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.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he would be making a statement on the case to Parliament on Monday.