A father poisoned his six-year-old son with salt and then went shopping for Smyths and Iceland to ‘find a way to stay out of the way’, a court said.
Thomas Hughes was accused of ‘forcing’ the kitchen spice down Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with water on June 16 last year because at the time he had ‘absolutely had it’ with his behavior during the lockdown.
The 29-year-old was also asked why his first act, when he returned home to Cranmore Road, Shirley, had to put the groceries in the kitchen despite receiving a ‘horsey’ call that his son had collapsed.
Arthur died at the hospital hours later of catastrophic head injuries.
Hughes denies murder and four counts of child molestation in connection with allegedly forcing Arthur into solitary confinement for up to 14 hours a day, assaulting him, depriving him of food and water as well as poisoning him with salt.
His co-accused ex-girlfriend Emma Tustin, 32, has pleaded not guilty to all the same offenses with the exception of admitting the isolated cruelty of solitary confinement.
On Coventry Crown Court today – Friday, November 19 – her attorney Mary Prior QC continued her cross-examination of Hughes.
The jury heard in its police interview that he had said he would not be ‘surprised’ if there were problems with Arthur’s kidneys and lungs.
Mrs Prior said: “You poisoned him with salt, not Mr Hughes, that was why you thought his kidneys had given in. You had to force it down, force it down with water. That was why you thought his lungs had given in. “
Hughes replied, “No, not at all.”
He had previously claimed that only ‘parts’ of his police interrogations were the truth because at the time he had decided to ‘take the blame’ for Tustin because she was pregnant with his baby. Hughes told the jury today that he now ‘hates’ her former lover, who revealed that she ended up taking their baby into custody.
Mrs Prior stated that around 1pm on June 16th, Hughes went to the bathroom for five minutes, took Arthur with him and ‘had definitely gotten it by then’.
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She said, “After you gave him the salt, you went out shopping.”
Hughes, who refused to take Arthur to the bathroom, replied, “I did not give Arthur the salt. I went to the shops.”
Mrs Prior told the court that Hughes then traveled and went to Iceland and Smyth’s toy store with Tustin’s two young children. She said, “You just have to find a way to stay out of the way for an hour and a half.”
Defendant said, “No, not at all.”
Later in the afternoon, he accepted that he was receiving a ‘hot’ phone call from Tustin, who reported that Arthur had ‘knocked himself out’.
Asked why his first act was to put the groceries in the kitchen when he got home, Hughes said, “At that point, I had to try to assess the situation. I did not know what I was getting into. I had to assess the information I had received. “
He denied that he did not want an ambulance to be called and added: “No, not at all, I asked Emma three times to call for an ambulance. My full attention was on Arthur. I thought Emma was in a better position to call for an ambulance. “
Earlier in today’s hearing, Hughes agreed in May last year that ‘something had gone terribly wrong’ in his relationship with Arthur and that he had begun to hit him on the legs as a punishment for his apparent behavior.
He denied that he had laid down all the rules and disagreed that he had ‘control’ in Tustin’s home, where he had temporarily moved in after the lockdown was announced on March 23 of that year.
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Hughes denied that it was his idea to get Arthur to stand at the door, saying that if he tried to move him, it caused quarrels with Tustin.
Mrs. Prior said, “Is it your business that you lived with a woman who had you completely under her control? You did what she said and what she wanted?”
Hughes answered “yes” to both questions. He said he would cry in the shower after hitting Arthur and said, “When I wanted to have a talk with Arthur again, I had Emma over my shoulder and said ‘words don’t work, just hit him, get it over with, come on and spend time with us. “
It is alleged by the prosecution that Tustin inflicted the fatal attack while he alone with Arthur had previously been ‘encouraged’ by Hughes to use violence against him.
The trial continues.
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