Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Safety warnings ignored, says grandfather

Image source, Family handout

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Arthur was described as a cheeky boy, adored by his extended family. He was killed by his stepmother and father in June 2020

The killers of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes should not “see the light of day ever again”, his grandfather has said.

Peter Halcrow told the BBC the life of a “defenceless, innocent boy” had been lost to a “heinous crime”.

He said the sentences for Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes and stepmother Emma Tustin – for manslaughter and murder respectively – were too lenient.

Tustin was jailed on Friday for 29 years and Hughes 21.

Media caption,

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Safety warnings ignored, says grandfather

Tustin delivered a fatal head injury to Arthur at her Solihull home in June last year following a campaign of cruelty by the 32-year-old and partner Hughes, 29.

Mr Halcrow – Arthur’s maternal grandfather – said safety concerns raised by the boy’s family and neighbours were ignored before he died.

He said warnings from other family members were “not acted on” by social services or police.

Social services had said there was “nothing to worry about” just months before Arthur was killed, he added.

Mr Halcrow told Radio 4’s Today programme that West Midlands Police had also been called about the situation – but had not stepped in.

Arthur was found emaciated and with more than 130 bruises when he died.

It emerged during the trial that Arthur had been seen by social workers just two months before the killing, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

Image source, Family handout

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Arthur had lived with his mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, for most of his life. Peter Halcrow said they were happy

A national investigation into what went wrong will begin next week, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said.

He confirmed both a national review and “targeted area” inspection to assess “what more could be done to prevent abuse such as this happening again”.

West Midlands Police has said it will co-operate with the review.

‘Alarm bells ringing’

Arthur had lived with his mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow and Hughes before the couple split up. They were given joint custody.

Mr Halcrow said: “The pair of them, Arthur and her together, were so happy. So absolutely she was a great mother and she spoiled him rotten as mothers do.

“When I was down in Birmingham, when I saw them together, they were just like absolutely bonded together.”

Arthur then lived with Hughes and his family before Hughes and Tustin became a couple.

Mr Halcrow said Arthur was “loved and well looked after” by his other grandparents and added they had raised concerns over his safety.

He said: “They’re decent people and they were very concerned. And they issued warnings that were ignored, shall we say.”

Mr Halcrow stated he did not know who went to the house once social services in Solihull were alerted.

“They must have thought everything was fine.

“People were flagging up there were problems and social services got involved, but said there was nothing to worry about.”

Image source, West Midlands Police

Image caption,

Emma Tustin was convicted of Arthur’s murder while his father, Thomas Hughes, was found guilty of his manslaughter

He questioned why no-one thought to step in and say “right, we’re taking that child out of that situation”.

“I mean [social services] must have a tick list to do – ‘the house is clean, everything is tidy, blah blah, blah, so we’ll not worry about it’.”

He added “alarm bells were ringing all around” and even Arthur’s neighbours had raised concerns.

Mr Halcrow said of the killers: “I wouldn’t give them the time of day and I wouldn’t want them to see the light of day ever again.

“[Arthur] had his whole life ahead of him, you know?”

Madeleine Halcrow, Arthur’s maternal grandmother, said she felt anger towards the organisations responsible for monitoring her grandson’s safety.

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I am angry with the inter agencies because somewhere along the line communication hasn’t been passed along.

Image source, PA Media

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Arthur’s maternal grandmother Madeleine Halcrow attended a vigil in Solihull on Sunday

“The old adage, ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’. Well something is broken in this system and something needs fixing.”

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, said it would be starting work on its investigation into services involved with child protection in Solihull.

She told Today: “Alongside the investigation into the particular circumstances of poor Arthur’s death, we’ve been asked to lead a joint targeted area inspection, looking at all of the services that are involved with child protection in Solihull.

“So that’s not just care and education, but also health, police, probation.”

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Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former head of Ofsted said things “get lost” between agencies

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former head of Ofsted, said during his time in the watchdog he heard the same things “again and again and again” regarding issues not being picked up quickly enough, invisibility of children within the home, poor early intervention and support and high case loads for social workers.

“That is what the reports will say and I am sure they will say the same thing about this poor little boy,” he said.

Without good monitoring by local authorities, he said social work “doesn’t work”.

Last week Solihull Council leader Ian Courts said quite understandably there had been “a strong and heartfelt reaction from across our borough and nationally”.

“I am very clear that we will leave no stone unturned to understand, learn and fix any issues that the independent review finds and any further actions that may come about through subsequent reviews and inspections,” he said.

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