Harrowing audio footage has captured the moment a six-year-old boy cries out “no one loves me” – just hours before he was allegedly murdered by his father and stepmother.
Thomas Hughes, 29, and Emma Tustin, 32, are accused of killing Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at their home in Solihull, West Midlands, last June.
The youngster suffered an unsurvivable brain injury after being subjected to a campaign of cruelty which amounted to the “medical definition of child torture”, the court heard.
Arthur was poisoned with salt, deprived of food and forced to stand for 14 hours a day before his death, jurors were told.
The clip of Arthur was played at Coventry Crown Court on Tuesday, along with a video that showed the youngster struggling to move his duvet and Avengers-themed pillow after being forced to sleep in the living room for the fifth day in a row.
The schoolboy was later killed as a result of having his head banged “repeatedly against a hard surface” at the hands of Tustin, it is alleged.
In audio clips released alongside the video by West Midlands Police, Arthur is heard crying “no one loves me” and “no one is going to feed me”.
Hughes and Tustin deny murdering Arthur and multiple counts of child cruelty.
Arthur‘s uncle Blake Hughes told the court last month the youngster broke out in tears after claiming that Tustin had pushed him against a wall and branded him “ugly”.
He said: “He said his mum didn’t love him and had abandoned him. He then started to break out crying. He went on to say nobody loved him.”
Tustin would send Hughes voice notes of Arthur crying whenever he left the house and he would reply with messages such as “dig Arthur’s grave”, jurors were told.
He also sent texts saying that he would take his “c***ing jaw off his shoulders”, it is alleged.
Earlier this week Hughes admitted he would also use “pressure points on Arthur‘s neck to discipline him” after seeing videos about police brutality in the USA online.
He said he would use these pressure points for “about 10 to 15 seconds” to “help discipline him.”
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin said the pair routinely physical and verbally abused Arthur to cause him “significant harm and suffering”.
He told the court previously: “Neither can begin to justify what they did to him. Arthur was a defenceless child entirely dependent on them for his well-being.
“Arthur became a target for derision, abuse and systematic cruelty designed to cause him significant physical and mental suffering for reasons which are unfathomable.”
Arthur was taken to Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital and his life support was turned off in intensive care at 1am on 17 June.
Hughes and Tustin, of Shirley, West Midlands both deny Arthur‘s murder.
The trial continues.
Additional reporting by SWNS