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Tragic boy, 6, was ‘poisoned’ with so much salt he was ‘unable to put up fight’ before death

ABUSE TRIAL

A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy was "poisoned" with so much salt he was rendered "unable to put up a fight" before his death, a court heard.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes had more than six spoons worth of salt in his system at the time of his death in June last year as his father and stepmother stand on trial for his murder.

Consultant pathologist Dr Roger Malcolmson told a murder trial at Coventry Crown Court it was "highly unlikely" the boy poisoned himself.

Thomas Hughes, aged 29, and his then girlfriend Emma Tustin, 32, stand accused of killing his son Arthur at their home in Solihull.

It comes as the court heard how the stepmum, Tustin, battered the boy and took a picture of his lifeless body before arranging her birthday balloons.

She then messaged Arthur's dad Thomas Hughes, saying: "Just copped me in the stomach he has thrown himself all over the floor won't get up for s*** I've shut the door on him."

Coventry Crown Court was shown CCTV of her carrying the "limp" youngster into the living room minutes after inflicting the alleged fatal blow on June 16 last year.

Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said: "She returns carrying Arthur into the living room. His body is limp.

"Arthur appears to be unconscious. His eyes are closed, body is limp."

The footage shows Tustin dragging Arthur back into the hallway before she appears to change her mind and places him on the sofa.

Arthur died in hospital the next day with a cause of death given as a "head trauma inflicted on him by an adult" consistent with being "vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface".

He was subjected to a "campaign of cruelty" before his death that matched the “medical definition of child torture”, it is said.

They both deny murder and multiple counts of child cruelty.

Giving evidence today, October 19, Dr Malcolmson stated it was "more likely" Arthur was "repeatedly poisoned with salt contaminated food or fluids" in "brutal controlling circumstances".

He told the court it was less likely he was given a single portion of salt shortly before he collapsed at the Shirley home on June 16.

Asked whether his raised sodium levels, combined with dehydration, would have contributed to Arthur being "less physically able to resist a fatal assault" the expert witness said: "That's my suggestion, yes.

Dr Malcolmson had earlier told the jury that Arthur suffered "severe" eye injuries, including a detached retina, "very rarely seen" in child head trauma cases.

"If he had been suffering health side effects from being poisoned to the extent he is likely to have been in this case, then yes he may not have been able to put up much of a fight."

'CAMPAIGN OF CRUELTY'

The expert described them as "towards the extreme end" of the scale and put them down to "severe blunt force trauma" to Arthur's head.

He said: "At minimum, there has been a very significant head impact, there may have also been a shaking-type mechanism.

Dr Malcolmson reiterated his belief that the cause of Arthur's death was a head injury which could not have been self inflicted because the boy would not have been able to generate enough force himself, the court heard.

The court also heard that Arthur's left kidney was "extremely small" while his thymus lymphoid organ in his chest appeared to have shrunk.

Dr Malcolmson stated the latter was likely caused by "severe and or prolonged physical stress" and confirmed it could have been brought on by "repeated and sustained abuse".

It is alleged Tustin and Hughes "isolated Arthur from the family", "assaulted him", "deprived him of water and made him stand in the hallway where he spent up to 14 hours a day", the court was previously told.

They both deny murder. Tustin has admitted one child cruelty offence but denies three others. Hughes denies all four counts.

The trial continues.