Council sent photos of child’s bruises after social work visit found no abuse concerns, murder trial told

The trial of a couple accused of murdering a six-year-old boy has been told social services found no safeguarding concerns after being contacted by his grandmother, who had taken photos of bruising to his shoulder.

Thomas Hughes, 29, and his partner Emma Tustin, 32, are alleged to have mistreated his son Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured) in the months before the youngster suffered an “unsurvivable” brain injury at his home in Cranmore Road, Shirley, Solihull, on June 16 2020.

In the fifth week of a trial at Coventry Crown Court, social worker Jayne Kavanagh said she found no safeguarding concerns during a home visit on April 17 but was later left confused and “in shock” when she was emailed photos of Arthur’s injuries by a manager.

The court heard the visit was arranged in a phone call by another social worker after Arthur’s paternal grandmother expressed concern that bruising may have been caused by Tustin.

Jurors were told two separate referrals had been made to police and a social services emergency out-of-hours duty team, with the latter relating to “unexplained” bruising to Arthur’s back.

Hughes initially suggested meeting a social worker in a Screwfix car park, the court heard, but then agreed to a home visit.

Ms Kavanagh said she carried out the so-called “threshold” assessment visit along with a family support worker, adding that Hughes and Tustin had presented the view that “it was a happy household and that they were getting along”.

The Solihull Council social worker told the jury: “At this time I explained that we would like to speak to Arthur and obviously see if there are any injuries.”

Arthur had appeared to be “happy, playful and boisterous” and red-faced from running around in the garden before he was examined, the witness added.

The “majority” of Arthur’s back was then examined, Ms Kavanagh said, and she noted a yellow, faint bruise in the middle of his back, which was said to be the result of a fall.

She told the jury: “The back was clear apart from a very faint bruise, a small faint bruise… like a yellowish colour.

“It was difficult to see the one bruise that was there.”

After being shown a photograph showing bruising to the shoulder area taken on April 16, Ms Kavanagh said she could not explain how she had been unable to see the injury a day later.

The court heard that a week later, on April 24, Ms Kavanagh was informed that Arthur’s grandmother had sent in photographs of injuries.

The social worker told the jury: “I was really confused.

“I was in shock that these photos had been taken the day before.

“In April, on that visit there were no safeguarding concerns.”

Family support worker Angela Scarlett-Coppage, who was also present during the home visit, told jurors Arthur had “happily showed us all of his shoulders”.

“I could see a faded bruise,” Mrs Scarlett-Coppage said, adding that all the child’s back could be seen.

Hughes and Tustin both deny murder and child cruelty charges.

The trial continues.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) West Midlands Police / PA.