THE BRITISH Government has today announced a major review following the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
The boy's father and stepmother were this week jailed for his death, which was caused by a severe blow to the head, the culmination of a campaign of cruelty perpetrated against him.
On Friday, Emma Tustin, 32, was jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years after being found guilty of murdering Arthur in Solihull, West Midlands.
His father, Thomas Hughes, was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for 21 years.
The review will see the agencies involved in Thomas' care scrutinised while identifying lessons that can be learnt to prevent similar abuse.
'Murder shocked a nation'
"Arthur's murder has shocked and appalled the nation," said Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.
"I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.
“I have taken immediate action and asked for a joint inspection to consider where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in Solihull, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes."
Arthur died in hospital on June 17, 2020 after suffering a severe head injury the previous day at Tustin's home in Cranmore Road, Shirley, Solihull.
Hughes had left the house just after 1pm, leaving his son alone with Tustin, so only she will ever know exactly how Arthur suffered the blow that killed him.
From the time Arthur sustained his ultimately fatal injury, Tustin waited 12 minutes before calling 999.
During that time, CCTV footage showed her carrying Arthur from the living room into the kitchen and back to the living room, before propping him up on the sofa.
Hughes then arrived back home, and the pair tried to give Arthur a drink and some children’s Paracetamol, before finally calling 999.
When paramedics arrived, the boy had bruising to his head and body, appeared under-weight and his gums were bleeding.
His father and stepmother claimed he had hit his own head off the floor, but police and experts determined his death had been caused by head trauma inflicted by an adult.
They believe the most likely way that happened was by him being vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface.
'Just end him'
A police investigation uncovered hundreds of audio and video files on the couple's phones, as well as the CCTV from their house, which illustrated the systematic cruelty inflicted on Arthur.
The boy was made to spend hours standing on his own and would be punished if he moved, while he was forced to sleep on the living room floor.
Many of the audio files featured Arthur being sworn at and subjected to threats of violence.
Others captured him begging for help, food and drink.
One neighbour said she heard Tustin shouting "face the wall", while another witness said Arthur was so weak shortly before his death that he struggling to stand or climb stairs.
Angry text messages exchanged between Tustin and Hughes on the day before Arthur died ended with one from Hughes, reading: "Just end him."
A post mortem revealed that Arthur had over 100 marks and bruises on his head, body and limbs.
These included bruising of different ages, as well as bruising in areas uncommon for accidental bruising in a child.
Abnormally high levels of salt were also found in Arthur's system, equivalent to him ingesting at least six-and-a-half tablespoons of salt on the day he was fatally injured.
A specialist kidney consultant concluded Arthur was most likely deliberately force-fed a mix of salt and water by an adult on that day, or that he had been repeatedly poisoned with heavily contaminated food and/or water over a longer period of time.
'Campaign of cruelty'
"This has been a truly heartbreaking case and has deeply affected everyone who has been involved in it," said Detective Inspector Laura Harrison of West Midlands Police.
"An innocent boy was subjected to a campaign of cruelty by the very people who were meant to be loving and protecting him.
"Despite the lies they told, we carefully built a case against the two of them.
We will leave absolutely no stone unturned to find out exactly what went wrong in the tragic and appalling case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. pic.twitter.com/v5AwHDy8Bw
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 4, 2021
"We were able to seize their phones and found the messages they exchanged which showed their anger towards Arthur.
"As part of our investigations we were able to access their home where we found a CCTV camera set up in their living room.
"And the footage from that helped us build up a picture of the grim reality of Arthur's life inside that house."
Tustin was also convicted of four charges of cruelty towards Arthur, namely withholding food and drink; administering salt; forced standing, isolation and intimidation; and assault.
Hughes was also convicted of the latter two charges.