A neighbour has stated that evil stepmother Emma Tustin chased a former partner down the road with a “garden spade”, amid claims that she would manipulate the men in her life.
Tustin, aged 32, was told that she must serve a minimum of 29 years behind bars after being found guilty of the murder of tragic tot Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, while his dad Thomas Hughes was informed that he must serve a minimum of 21 years after being found guilty of manslaughter.
Hughes had moved in with his son Arthur, aged six, to Tustin’s home at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.
Soon after this, little Arthur was subjected to a campaign of abuse and cruelty that tragically led to his death on June 17 of that year after Tustin inflicted a series of fatal head injuries and poisoned him with salt.
Now, in the wake of the convictions for the killers, Tustin’s former home in the Solihull suburban street has become a shrine to Arthur.
Family, friends, neighbours and well-wishers have left flowers, teddy bears, Birmingham City FC memorabilia and balloons.
A neighbour recalled an incident involving Tustin and her former partner when she was particularly aggressive.
“She was a nutcase, a fruit loop,” she said.
“One day, her ex came down the road, there had been a row, and she was chasing him down the road with a garden spade.”
She said Arthur and his father were a familiar sight on the road and were frequently seen out walking.
She said Arthur loved to play with her dog on her driveway.
“He walked down the road with his dad,” she said.
“He’d stop at my drive and play with my puppy often, sometimes for an hour. You would never know anything was happening.”
She claimed that before any of the tragic circumstances leading up to Arthur’s death happened, Hughes had been known in the local community as a figure in local football.
“Before all this, he was a was a football coach and actually all right,” she said.
Another neighbour told how there was bad blood between Tustin and another neighbour soon after she moved in – about cats.
She said: “As soon as she moved in she gave a woman a few doors down a nervous breakdown – about cats.
“She was shouting ‘get your cats to stop s***ing on my driveway’.
“As if you can do that.”
The same neighbour said that Hughes seemed to have fallen under Tustin’s spell.
“You know when some bloke falls in love with someone and becomes besotted with her – that’s what happened,” she said.
Another woman leaving flowers said: “I didn’t know him personally but it has haunted me.
“I think it has just shocked the nation. Everybody has just cried for this boy.”
A woman who stopped by to pay their respects said: “Your mentality has got to be sick to do that to a child.
“Every child needs to be disciplined but you do not need to go that far.”
There was some criticism of the authorities from people leaving flowers at the scene.
“Social services came out and he was covered in bruises. The system failed,” said one person.
“She shouldn’t have been allowed Arthur. She shouldn’t have been around any child.”
She added: “Also, they should have at least taken him out of there to talk to him to find out what he was really feeling.
“She knew what she was doing. And the school should have been around there as soon as he wasn’t at school.”
Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here.