A KILLER stepmum chased an ex with a spade and manipulated men before murdering her six-year-old stepson, horrified neighbours say.
Emma Tustin, 32, was caged for life yesterday after being convicted of beating Arthur Labinjo-Hughes to death.
The youngster was poisoned, starved and battered in an evil torture campaign carried out by her and Arthur's dad Thomas Hughes, 29.
Neighbours at Tustin's house of horrors in Shirley, West Mids, have now claimed she would draw men in so she could manipulate them.
One told Coventry Live: "She was a nutcase, a fruit loop.
"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.”
Another revealed there was a row between Tustin and a local after she moved in.
They added: "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 resident also claimed Hughes fell under the mum-of-two's spell after they moved in together during lockdown.
She said: "You know when some bloke falls in love with someone and becomes besotted with her – that’s what happened."
Hughes and Tustin waged a sick "campaign of cruelty" against Arthur in his tragic final months.
The youngster was segregated for 14 hours a day and forced to sleep on the floor in a brutal struggle that matched the “medical definition of child torture”.
He was also poisoned with so much salt he was too weak to even put up a fight against his torturers' horrific abuse.
"Wicked" Tustin was convicted of murder after repeatedly smashing Arthur's head against a hard surface at the house of horrors in Shirley, West Mids.
The shameless stepmum was too cowardly to even face Arthur's family yesterday as she was jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years.
Arthur's "pitiless" dad Hughes was caged for 21 years after being found guilty of manslaughter.
The court was told Tustin terminated a pregnancy after she was charged with Arthur's murder.
She also attempted suicide twice during the trial and has been bullied in prison.
On June 16 last year, Tustin repeatedly smashed the youngster's head against a hard surface causing him to collapse.
He died in hospital the next day from a "head trauma inflicted on him by an adult" consistent with being "vigorously shaken and his head banged repeatedly against a hard surface".
Arthur's frail and skeletal body was covered with 130 bruises and he suffered 93 different areas of injury – including on his head, arms, legs, feet and torso.
Even if just half of the 130 bruises on Arthur's body were the result of abuse, it would still be a mark for every day he spent being "terrorised" during lockdown.
The injuries were so severe they were likened to those seen in a high-speed car crash.
Chillingly, Arthur's final months on earth were captured in harrowing audio clips and recordings made by Tustin and Hughes.
Arthur could be heard wailing in one 23-second recording "no one loves me" and "no one is going to feed me".
Video footage also showed Arthur hours before he died waking up on the living room floor.
The emaciated youngster was said to be so frail he could barely pick up his bedding.
In his closing speech, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said Tustin and Hughes carried out a "systematic course of conduct designed to terrorise, degrade, neglect and harm Arthur physically and psychologically".
He added: "Together they denigrated and debased him, they dehumanised him."
A serious case review has now been launched following the "terrible tragedy", Solihull Council confirmed.
It can also be revealed Tustin was already known to children’s services over previous concerns of domestic violence.
And the mum had a police reprimand for battery when she was aged 14 as well as a caution for shoplifting when aged 16.
Boris Johnson's spokesman said today: "The Prime Minister found the details of this case deeply disturbing. His thoughts are with those who loved Arthur.
"No child should ever suffer in the way that he did. And it's clear there are questions that need to be answered to get to the bottom of how this happened."
Tustin was also convicted of two counts of child cruelty, including salt-poisoning and withholding food and drink from Arthur.
Partway through the trial, she admitted two other cruelty counts – wilfully assaulting Arthur on three occasions and isolating him.
Hughes was also convicted of the cruelty offences which Tustin had admitted – but was cleared of withholding food and drink, or of poisoning his own son with salt.
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