The killers of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes relaxed in a hot tub while the six-year-old boy was left alone for hours, it has emerged.
His stepmother, Emma Tustin, 32, posted a picture on Instagram six weeks before the child's murder of her and his father, Thomas Hughes, 29, sitting in the hot tub outside their home in Solihull, West Midlands.
Last Friday, Tustin was jailed for 29 years for the boy's murder, while Hughes was sentenced to 21 years for his son’s manslaughter.
Watch: Government launch review into Arthur Labinjo-Hughes case
They were found guilty at Coventry Court last Thursday of carrying out a "campaign of cruelty" against "happy and smiley" Arthur, who died in June last year after being left with an "unsurvivable" brain injury.
Tustin and Hughes had abused Arthur for months during the start of the first national coronavirus lockdown by poisoning him with salt-laced meals and starving, dehydrating and beating him.
A post-mortem examination found Arthur had suffered about 130 separate injuries. Arthur died in hospital on 17 June last year - a post-mortem examination confirmed his death was caused by a head injury.
Much of the abuse was captured on CCTV that the couple had installed in their home. Police said Arthur was made to stand for up to 14 hours a day by himself in the hallway.
Detective Inspector Laura Harrison, who led the murder investigation for West Midlands Police, said the couple were “evil”.
She told BirminghamLive: "I think they were too selfish and focused on themselves.
“That's really clear in the CCTV (from inside the home) when Arthur is stood facing the door for hours and they are both in the hot tub in the garden enjoying themselves.”
She added: "The behaviour cannot be excused, cannot be understood, and it's just absolute torture which can only be described as 'evil'."
The Sun reported that Arthur was left to wear a fluffy onesie in sweltering heat while Tustin and Hughes were in the hot tub.
After her conviction, police released footage of Tustin lying about how Arthur received his fatal injuries, even claiming she had “done my best for that kid”.
Arthur’s mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, was convicted of manslaughter in September 2019 and then jailed after she killed her boyfriend. The boy was then placed into the custody of Hughes, his father.
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has confirmed the sentences given to Tustin and Hughes are to be reviewed after claims they were too lenient.
On Monday, policing minister Kit Malthouse said he would like to see the pair given whole-life sentences.
“Yes I would. I was surprised that they didn’t,” he told Times Radio.
Arthur’s grandfather, Peter Halcrow, 61, said the couple “must never see the light of day again”.
He told The Sun: “No punishment could ever be enough for this pair.
“I have never favoured the death penalty because I know mistakes can be made by courts, but in my view they have forfeited their right to live.
“It will burden taxpayers but, as we don’t have capital punishment, they should certainly never leave prison as long as they live for such cruelty and inhumanity.”
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.
The Court of Appeal then makes a ruling on cases which have been referred.
A spokesperson for the AGO said: “The Attorney General’s thoughts are with those who loved Arthur.
“I can confirm that the sentences given to Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have been referred to the Attorney General for review to determine whether they were too low.”
Arthur’s grandmother Madeleine Halcrow was among a large crowd of people who gathered on Sunday afternoon outside the house in Cranmore Road, Solihull, where the six-year-old was killed, to pay tribute to him.
A crowd lined the road before letting go of the balloons, some bearing messages, and applauding.
The government has announced a major review to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with Arthur in the months before he was murdered.
The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will lead the review and will provide additional support to Solihull Children’s Safeguarding Partnership to “upgrade” the already existing local review which was launched shortly after Arthur’s death.
It emerged in court the boy had been seen by social workers two months before his death, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation.
“I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.”
Watch: Residents hold vigil for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes