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Sentences for killers of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes to be reviewed for leniency

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Attorney general to consider whether jail terms for Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes are long enough

The jail sentences given to the couple who killed six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes are to be reviewed to “determine whether they were too low”, the attorney general has announced.

Arthur was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of his stepmother, Emma Tustin, who was jailed for life on Friday after being convicted of murder.

Tustin’s life sentence carries a minimum term of 29 years, while Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said the sentences have been referred “for review to determine whether they were too low”.

The AGO has 28 days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the court of appeal.

Arthur died in Solihull, Midlands on 16 June 2020 and his body was found to be covered in 130 bruises.

The six-year-old had been poisoned, starved and beaten in the weeks before his death, the trial at Coventry crown court heard.

Related: How much did lockdown help Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ killers escape notice?

A crossbench peer who led the inquiry in 2001 into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié has warned that “marked” cuts to social care funding had taken their toll on child protection services that could have saved Arthur.

Herbert Laming said the reduction in funding for social care in the last 10 years meant children like Arthur, whose abuse and death has shocked the nation, were being missed.

Laming, who was later appointed to review the case of Peter Connelly (known as Baby P), told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the lack of funding had led to a “tremendous reduction of preventive services and family support services”.

Both Victoria and Baby P had been neglected, abused and killed.

Laming said: “The [frontline services] are not able to bring families into a day centre to see how the child reacts to the parents. They’re not able to observe a child with other children and then to see them go back to the adult in their lives, and social workers often find themselves in this day and age out on their own. And we must do something about that.”

Football fans applauded during the sixth minute of the West Ham v Chelsea Premier League game as a picture of Arthur was shown on a screen.

More tributes were paid by Coventry City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City while Aston Villa will do the same during Sunday’s match with Leicester.

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he would be making a statement on the case to parliament on Monday.

The former children’s minister Tim Loughton said we all have a duty to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur.

Related: The death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes raises hard questions – we must address them all | Harry Ferguson

The Conservative MP wrote in the Sun: “Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service.

“Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.

“This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently, and a duty to make sure it is.”

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