Joanne Hughes had contacted social services five weeks before six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died after suffering an alleged “shaking injury”, a teacher at the boy’s school said
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The grandma of a six-year-old boy made a referral to social services just weeks before he died, his murder trial has heard.
Concerned Joanne Hughes had contacted the local authority regarding Arthur Labinjo-Hughes last April, just five weeks before he died in the early hours of June 17, 2020.
The schoolboy, from Solihull, West Midlands, suffered fatal brain damage from an alleged bang to the head and “shaking injury”, reports Birmingham Live.
Speaking during the trial’s 14th day on Tuesday, Sarah Turrell, a teaching assistant at Dickens Heath Community Primary School, where Arthur was a pupil, confirmed the referral.
She said she had spoken to Thomas Hughes the same day but he “had no concerns” and said his son was “playing happily in the garden”.
Ms Turrell had previously assured the dad she was happy to remain in contact after the UK was placed in lockdown in March last year.
Hughes, 29, of Stroud Road, Shirley, and Emma Tustin, 32, of Cranmore Road, Shirley, have both pleaded not guilty to murder.
Tustin admitted one count of child cruelty, but has denied further charges of the same offence. Hughes also denies child cruelty offences.
Ms Turrell said that in early February 2020 she “stepped up work with Arthur.”
“Right at the end of the winter term, December, there was an observation of Arthur being upset,” she told the hearing.
“We were doing the Christmas production with him. He got upset when the baby in the nativity scene was taken out of the crib.
“It was his Year 1 teacher who came to me and had a conversation about picking up more work with Arthur because we were starting to see behaviour which was an indicator for us to act on.”
It was also revealed that Arthur thought about “death, murder and guns”, was having nightmares and had become more reserved in the lead up to his tragic death, a special educational needs coordinator said.
Aileen Carabine, who also worked at the school, in Shirley, told the hearing that Arthur was becoming “fixated” with his dad disappearing from his life, being taken away from his dad and his dad killing him.
She confirmed a meeting had taken place between the school and Arthur’s father and his grandmother in November 2019.
The pair explained that Arthur had “changed considerably” at home and were concerned about how “vulnerable” he was.
She was also asked what impact Covid-19 had in relation to what was happening to Arthur.
Ms Carabine told the court that prior to lockdown she had made a referral to mental health services in 2019, but because it was an outside agency the school did not receive a report.
Ms Carabine confirmed Arthur started at the school in February 2019. She says by March that year he had no idea his biological mother – Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow – was in prison.
Ms Carabine confirmed that by October 2019 Arthur had “deteriorated”, and had become more “reserved and anxious.”
“Not quite as smiley,” she added.
Ms Carabine said that she did not notice any change in Arthur’s physical appearance at that time. She tells the court that by Autumn 2019 Arthur understood his mother was in prison.
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin read a statement from Kerry Forsyth-Benson, a CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) practitioner.
The court is told she had a meeting with Arthur and Thomas Hughes in March 2020 At Bishop Wilson Clinic in Birmingham.
Ms Forsyth-Benson’s statement recalls Arthur saying he worried about his dad not returning. She observed his physical appearance at the time as fine.
Ms Forysth-Benson confirmed previously reported issues of Arthur play-fighting aggressively with other children and becoming anxious had reduced, so she concluded there was no mental health issue at that time.
The trial – held at Coventry Crown Court – continues.