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Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Murdered boy’s mother was jailed for her boyfriend’s killing

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  • Thomas Hughes
    English lawyer, author and cricketer (1822-1896)
  • Gary Cunningham
    Gary Cunningham is a college men's basketball coach.

The mother of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes had herself been jailed for stabbing her own partner to death in a drink and drug-fuelled rage.

Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes, 29, and stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, were convicted of his manslaughter and murder respectively on Thursday.

But it emerged at their trial at Coventry Crown Court how the youngster had only been in his father’s care, after his natural mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, was jailed for killing her boyfriend.

A family handout photo of Arthur (West Midlands Police/PA) (PA Media)
A family handout photo of Arthur (West Midlands Police/PA) (PA Media)

Hughes and Labinjo-Halcrow had shared custody of their son, until her arrest for killing 29-year-old delivery driver Gary Cunningham in their home at Frensham Way, Birmingham, in February 2019.

Labinjo-Halcrow’s conviction was later quashed after an appeal but she was found guilty of manslaughter after a retrial at Birmingham Crown Court in July, 2021 and sentenced to 11 years.

Mrs Justice Amanda Tipples, sentencing, described how Labinjo-Halcrow had told “lie after lie” about her crime, and showed no remorse.

Gary Cunningham (West Midlands Police)
Gary Cunningham (West Midlands Police)

Labinjo-Halcrow and Mr Cunningham, who met on an alcohol awareness course, both “drank too much and had mental health problems”, the judge said.

Mrs Justice Tipples said: “There were fights. Gary was violent to you and you were violent to Gary.

“It was not all one-way.

“You were as bad as each other.

“You told lie after lie about the extent of the violence inflicted on you by Gary.”

Emma Tustin (PA)
Emma Tustin (PA)

The court heard Labinjo-Halcrow was seeing another man at the same time as Mr Cunningham with neither man aware of the other.

The judge told her: “You are an arch manipulator, to get what you wanted with who you wanted.”

Prior to the killing, during an incident in November 2018 Labinjo-Halcrow had stabbed Mr Cunningham in the arm, while Arthur was in their flat.

During the fatal attack on February 23, 2019, her victim was stabbed four times; once in the chest and three more times in his left leg, including a fatal blow behind his knee which was 11cm deep.

Mrs Justice Tipples said: “However drunk and drugged you were that morning I’m quite sure you know what actually happened.”

Thomas Hughes (PA)
Thomas Hughes (PA)

She added: “After you had been arrested you told them (police) he had killed himself.

“You were taken out of the flat and walked past his dead body covered with a sheet.

“You didn’t show a flicker of emotion.

“You stepped over his dead body.”

Mrs Justice Tipples, concluding there was no element of self-defence to her crime, told her: “You are an intelligent woman, academically successful in school and attended university.

“You used that intelligence to tell this jury an extensive and elaborate series of lies you made up after you killed Gary in order to describe the relationship where you had been the victim.”

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