THE grandad of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes last night said his killers must never go free — as Boris Johnson was poised to back a sentence review.
Peter Halcrow, 61, hit out as a national probe was ordered into blunders over the tragic six-year-old.
Stepmum Emma Tustin got 29 years and dad Thomas Hughes 21.
Peter said he was “shocked and mystified” as to how social workers had failed to raise the alarm as the six-year-old was starved, poisoned and beaten to death.
But Mr Halcrow said: “They must never see the light of day again. 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.”
Grieving Peter, from Dunkeld, Perthshire, added: “I realised Arthur had been killed but didn’t realise how much he suffered until the court case.
“And for the last 38 days I have been left feeling physically sick as I followed online.
“Strangers who never met Arthur have been moved to tears by this so you can imagine how it affected me remembering how happy and smiley he once was.
“I still can’t fully process it but mine is a story you couldn’t make up — my daughter is in prison for killing someone and my grandson has been tortured to death.
"I don’t think I’ll ever get over this.”
The Attorney General’s Office has confirmed the sentences will be reviewed. Yesterday Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said he “fully supports” the move and indicated the Prime Minister will do the same today.
He told of his fury at police who ignored repeated warnings after being sent pictures of the little lad’s injuries with desperate pleas for help.
And he revealed his own heartbreaking regret at being unable to persuade his daughter to ferry Arthur clear of danger before wicked step-mother Emma Tustin entered his life.
Peter’s outpouring came as Aston Villa and Leicester City paid tribute to Arthur during their Premier League match yesterday by stopping the game to applaud in the sixth minute — representing the tragic lad’s age.
Meanwhile, Arthur’s gran Madeleine Halcrow wept as hundreds of balloons were released in his memory in his home town of Solihull, West Midlands.
The government yesterday launched an urgent national review of lessons to be learned from Arthur’s horrific death.
A probe will be led by Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel chief Annie Hudson in a bid to avoid a repeat of the fatal failures.
It replaces an earlier serious case review put on hold during the trial of Tustin, 32, and Arthur’s dad Thomas Hughes, 29.
A separate targeted inspection led by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and emergency services will focus on the safeguarding agencies in Solihull.
Glasgow-born Peter, who runs a cafe in a Tesco store in Perth, had Arthur’s mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow with wife Madeleine in 1993 but the couple split and he moved to Perthshire.
Labinjo-Halcrow, 28, met Hughes and moved to the West Midlands where they had Arthur. However, they separated and Labinjo-Halcrow and her son moved in with her new lover Gary Cunningham.
But grandad Peter became worried as her stormy relationship with Cunningham broke down.
And he was stunned when Labinjo-Halcrow was charged with murdering him. She has since been found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 11 years.
Nothing can bring him back but I don’t want any other child or any other family to have this experience every again.
After she was charged, Hughes was given custody of Arthur in February 2019.
Later that year, Hughes met Tustin on a dating website and they moved in together shortly before the first Covid lockdown in March 2020.
They took advantage of the Government’s restrictions to abuse Arthur “with impunity”.
They tortured, poisoned and starved him before Tustin beat him to death in June last year.
Yet the lad remains in a mortuary because of an alleged dispute between the two sides of the family over organising the funeral.
Peter would not comment but speaking about his daughter he said: “I could see that there were huge problems in Olivia’s relationship with Cunningham and tried and tried to help her and Arthur get away.
“I paid for train tickets for them to come and stay with me in Scotland, and knew that Olivia went to collect them but she and Arthur never got on the train.
“That would have stopped this whole chain of events happening — she might never have killed Cunningham and Arthur would not have gone to live with his father and met Tustin.
I can’t help but remember his wonderful smile and those bright blue eyes during our last little chat — it still breaks my heart
"It tortures me every day wishing I could turn back time, if only I could have persuaded Olivia to come. I’m full of regret but fully accept that my daughter must also bear some responsibility for how things turned out.
“But nothing we think or feel now will bring Arthur back — that’s the worst part.”
Peter also said he was angry at West Midlands Police for failing to heed the warnings of Hughes’ brother Daniel, who had noticed bruises on Arthur’s body and begged for help.
Peter said: “The police ended up telling him to stop harassing them — their conduct in this was scandalous.
“I hope the new inquiry finds everyone responsible, leaves no stone unturned and punishes those who let Arthur down if they are proven to have been negligent.
“Nothing can bring him back but I don’t want any other child or any other family to have this experience every again.
“Too many children have been failed and I want our Arthur to be the last.”
He called Tustin “a coward and a sadist”, adding: “It’s like a horror movie — it hasn’t really sunk in how horrific his death was.
“I’m completely shocked that any adult can act that way towards such a happy, healthy, smiley kid. He was a lovely little boy. I used to speak to him on video-call and he would call me Papa. That was nice.
“I can’t help but remember his wonderful smile and those bright blue eyes during our last little chat — it still breaks my heart.”
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