TRAGIC Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was killed after suffering months of torture at the hands of his evil dad and stepmum.

The six-year-old had been placed in the care of Thomas Hughes after his mother Olvia Labinjo-Halcrow was jailed for stabbing her lover to death.

But instead of protecting his son, Hughes and his partner Emma Tustin teamed up to wage a sickening campaign of torture that ended in the youngster's death.

The evil couple "dehumanised" the boy as they carried out a "systematic course of conduct designed to terrorise, degrade, neglect and harm Arthur physically and psychologically".

Shockingly, their months of abuse slipped under the net after Hughes and Tustin used lockdown to pull the wool over the eyes of the authorities.

We examine the tragic timeline of events that led to Arthur's killing.

February 2019 – Arthur's ordeal begins

Arthur's mum Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow stabbed boyfriend Gary Cunningham, 29, 12 times in a drink and drug-fuelled rage at their home.

She was jailed for 18 years after being convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Her original conviction was quashed but she was found guilty for a second time in July this year and handed an 11-year sentence.

After she was caged, Arthur was placed in the care of his dad Thomas Hughes.

August 2019 – An evil couple is formed

Arthur was "cherished by all" to start with while living with his dad and family in an annexe at his paternal grandparents' home.

But the "stable" life he briefly enjoyed became rooted in evil once more when Hughes began a relationship with Emma Tustin.

The violence he had witnessed while living with his mum was now aimed at him as the couple waged a campaign of abuse and torture.

Concerned family members began noticing a change in Arthur as the youngster became more withdrawn and anxious around his dad and Tustin.

Teachers say his behaviour began to deteriorate and he became "not quite as smiley".

November 2019 – Fears creep in

Hughes and his mother Joanne met with Arthur's school to address growing concerns over his behaviour.

The youngster had been suffering from nightmares and said he had become "fixated" with death, murder, guns and the news.

Arthur also told teachers he was scared his dad would "kill him" but no further action is taken.

January and February 2020 – Arthur's change in mood increases

At the beginning of the year, Arthur's school starts to raise concerns.

The youngster had developed an "obsession" with soft toys and was "clingy".

He also told pals his mum was in prison and Michelle Hull, safeguarding lead at the school, encouraged him to speak to her about it.

The next month, Tustin took Arthur with her for a hair appointment at the home of Catherine Milhench.

She noted how the boy was made to sit at a children's table with his hands on his knees and not move while he was there.

March 2020 – lockdown begins and Arthur is trapped

After the national shutdown was imposed, Tustin and Hughes were able to hide their abuse from the world.

Gran Joanne Hughes pleaded with her son to come home with Arthur but he refused and stayed at Tustin's home instead.

By this point, Arthur had seen a CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) practitioner over his apparent behaviour problems but she found no mental health issues.

April 2020 – Missed chances to save Arthur

On April 16, Joanne Hughes noticed several bruises on Arthur's back.

He told her Tustin pushed him down the stairs and called him a "brat".

The boy also told his uncle Blake his stepmum had grabbed his head, banged him against a wall and called him a "horrible ugly brat".

Concerned, Joanne takes photos of Arthur's bruised back and made a report to social services.

Solihull Council social services visited Hughes and Tustin the next day.

Social worker Jane Kavanagh led the visit, accompanied by Angela Scarlett-Coppage, family support worker, are told Tustin's son had a fight with Arthur using a boxing glove set.

Ms Kavanagh noted she could only see a single "faint" bruise on Arthur's back.

She concluded there were no safeguarding issues and believes both boys were "very happy and very safe".

Hughes later told the court Tustin had "coached" her own son and Arthur on what to tell social services.

Worried Joanne called Arthur's school on April 20 to tell them about the social services referral .

Michelle Hull, safeguarding lead at Dickens Heath Community Primary School, then contacted social services but was told they had "no concerns".

She is also informed the bruises were put down to "boisterous play".

Meanwhile, Ms Kavanagh was made aware of the photographs and finally saw the deep bruising but no further steps are taken.

April 18, 2020 – Police threaten concerned uncle with arrest

Not satisfied with the response from social services, Arthur's uncle Daniel Hughes told police he has photos of bruising but hears nothing back.

Desperate, he tried to confront Hughes and Tustin at her home and then called West Midlands Police to report his concerns.

Instead of taking action, Daniel is threatened with arrest for breaking Covid rules.

Even after he finally sent the photos over, he never heard anything back.

John Dutton, Tustin's stepfather, also made a call to social services before Arthur's death as he thought he was "in danger".

He explained how Tustin was "dish out the discipline".

Mr Dutton also revealed that during one visit, Hughes confessed how he had "gone to town" on the youngster.

May 2020 – Torture continues undetected

By this point, Arthur was being forced to stand in a hallway alone for up to 14 hours a day.

Through chilling audio recordings and video, the youngster's abuse was plain to see.

In one clip he cries out for his uncle Blake, saying: "No one loves me".

He was also heard saying: "Daddy's going to throw me out the window."

By the end of May, Arthur was being denied a bed and was instead made to sleep on the living room floor.

He was also poisoned with salt and meals were taken away from him while Tustin lavished her own children with treats and presents.

June 8, 2020 – Arthur never returns to school

During lockdown, teachers had spoken with Hughes for a welfare check.

The fiend told them Arthur was enjoying playing the garden and was "decorating his bedroom".

But by June when the schools reopened, Hughes did not send his son back.

He told teachers the boy had a bad night's sleep and would return the next morning.

As the days went on, Hughes said he had lost weight as he wouldn't eat and was worried he'd faint if he returned.

Arthur never made it back to school again.

June 12 to June 14, 2020 – Arthur's final hours spent alone

During the three-day period, Arthur spent more than 35 hours in isolation in the hallway.

Tustin was filmed on the living room camera tucking into McDonald's with her son while Arthur starved.

She later complained she had to pause Coronation Street as Arthur was making noise.

By this point, he had been standing alone in the hallway for 14 hours and 19 minutes.

He spent 11 hours and 49 minutes in the same spot the next day.

If he attempted to move into the living room, Hughes would slap him and Tustin marched him by the scruff of the neck back into the hall.

Despite the heat, Arthur was still wearing a fluffy onesie and was forced to watch as Hughes and Tustin cooled down with ice creams.

Hecontinued wearing the same stifling pyjamas for five more days until his death.

June 16, 2020 – Tragic youngster's last day

Harrowing footage from the morning Arthur collapsed showed him waking up on the living room floor.

He appeared to be struggling as he grabbed his duvet and could barely hold his own weight as he staggered across the room.

Arthur was taken to pal Ms Milhench's home so Tustin could get her hair finished.

The witness said he went back and forth being shouted at by his dad and step-mother "like a game of tennis".

She also heard Arthur screaming and was told by Tustin that Hughes was "pressure pointing him because it hurts".

Her partner secretly gave Arthur a glass of water and described how he was so weak he could barely touch the glass to his chapped lips.

By 2pm, the trio had returned home and Hughes popped out to buy Tustin a birthday cake.

Around this time, she poisoned Arthur with salt – making him so weak he was unable to fight back.

At 2.15pm, Tustin took a photo of Arthur crying in the hallway before returning to the living room.

Around 14 minutes later, she was seen on camera leaving the living room.

In the minute she was gone, Tustin repeatedly smacked Arthur's head against a hard surface causing him to collapse.

At 2.32pm she text Hughes claiming Arthur had "copped me in the stomach", adding: "He won't get up for s***".

She eventually called 999 at 2.42pm – 12 minutes after she attacked the youngster.

Arthur was rushed to hospital while Tustin and Hughes were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

June 17, 2020 – Arthur's short life comes to an end

At 1am, doctors concluded nothing more can be done and Arthur's life support was switched off.

December 2, 2020 – Justice for Arthur at last

Tustin was yesterday found guilty of murder while Arthur's dad Thomas Hughes was convicted of manslaughter after a grisly seven-week trial.

It was later revealed a Serious Case Review has been launched into the shortcomings.

West Midlands Police is also being probed by the Independent Office for Police Conduct over their handling of the case.

Shockingly, a council boss charged with looking after vulnerable children left her post before Tustin and Hughes went on trial.

Louise Rees took the £122,294 Director of Children's Services post in March 2019.

But she left her post just three months after Arthur was killed amid failings by the authorities.

Ms Rees later boasted on LinkedIn she is now "retired and loving it".

Questions are now being asked over how Hughes and Tustin were able to carry out their reign of terror despite the opportunities to save him.

Child safeguarding experts said the case showed little has been learned since similar failures over the death of Baby P at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and his brother in Haringey, North London, in 2007.

Expert Gerald Hannah said: “Nothing has changed — in fact it’s got worse because the local authorities have been given more control and more autonomy.

“The main problem is statutory reporting, which has been made compulsory since tragic cases like Baby P and Daniel Pelka.

“This means that everybody has to report every single allegation, no matter how trivial. That has given an overload of information and makes the already difficult job of social services impossible.

“It has become difficult to identify which are the genuine cases or not.”

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