Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Jail term 'too lenient' says granddad 'completely destroyed' by boy's murder

ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman on the search for answers in the wake of Arthur's murder

The grandfather of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother, was "completely destroyed" by his grandson's death as he condemned the jail term given to the boy's father.

Peter Halcrow, 61, who was the boy's maternal granddad, said he thought the 21-year sentence for manslaughter handed down to Arthur's father, Thomas Hughes, was "too lenient".

Emma Tustin was jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years for her stepson's murder, a sentence Mr Halcrow told ITV News he thought was "reasonable".

Mr Halcrow, from Dunkeld, Perthshire, said he knew nothing about the appalling treatment Arthur was subjected to in the months leading up to his death.

“I had no idea what he was going through, it just completely destroyed me," Mr Halcrow told ITV News.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with his father, Thomas Hughes, and Hughes’ partner, Emma Tustin Credit: Family handout/West Midlands Police/PA

“Arthur was only six, he has his whole life in front of him.”

Asked about the jail terms handed to Tustin and Hughes, he said: “I felt okay about that (Tustin's sentence), I felt that was reasonable, I was a bit concerned about Tom’s sentence, because how a father can ignore his son, how a father can put a woman above his son. He was a contributing factor, his sentence was a bit too lenient," he said.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said on Monday that he would like to see Arthur's father and stepmother given whole-life sentences and was "surprised" that they did not.

Arthur's grandma was in tears as people gathered to pay tribute to the six-year-old. Credit: PA

A post-mortem examination showed the young boy had suffered 125 separate injuries. And later tests revealed Arthur had also been “poisoned with salt” in the hours before his collapse

During the trial, the court heard how Hughes and Tustin carried out a "campaign of cruelty" amounting to "torture" against Arthur, in which he was force-fed salt-laced meals, kept isolated in the home, starved, dehydrated and routinely beaten.

  • Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes eat ice-cream while Arthur stands in the hallway starving

Education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, announced a review into the circumstances that contributed to the “tragic and horrific” death of Arthur.

The review also aims to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with Arthur in the months before he was murdered at his home in Solihull.

Mr Zahawi said: “I am as determined as everybody in this House to get to the truth and expose what went wrong, and take any action necessary to protect children.”

"I would counsel against people rushing to judgement. It doesn't help to blame social workers, social workers don't kill children", Gerard Jones the managing director of Children and Young People's services at Oldham Council told ITV News

The action comes 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”.Mr Halcrow said Hughes' family had tried to raise concerns.

“I think Tom came from a good family, and that his parents were trying to say something’s going wrong, something’s wrong," he said. "I’ve only met them briefly at Arthur’s christening. It’s just a real tragedy.”

People release balloons as a tribute to six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

On Sunday afternoon, crowds formed a line outside the house Arthur shared with his father and stepmother, before balloons were released into the sky and posters and flowers were placed around the property.

Residents, some with tears in their eyes, could be heard saying “bye Arthur” and “fly high always”.