Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes: taxpayer-funded legal aid bill for Arthur Labinjo Hughes’ killers tops £400k

Emma Tustin was handed a life sentence after being convicted of murdering her stepson Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, while Thomas Hughes was found guilty of manslaughter

The legal aid bill for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ killers has so far amounted to more than £400,000, NationalWorld can reveal.

Emma Tustin, who was jailed for life with at least 29 years in prison for murdering her 6-year-old stepson, and Arthur’s dad Thomas Hughes, who was jailed for 21 years for his manslaughter, were granted £419,238.97 in legal aid between them.

The taxpayer-funded legal aid sums are paid directly to their defence lawyers.

And not all the claims related to the cash have been received yet - so the final total could rise even more.

Emma Tustin was sentenced for murdering her stepson Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, while his dad Thomas Hughes was sentenced for manslaughter.
Emma Tustin was sentenced for murdering her stepson Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, while his dad Thomas Hughes was sentenced for manslaughter.
Emma Tustin was sentenced for murdering her stepson Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, while his dad Thomas Hughes was sentenced for manslaughter.

How much has been paid out for the pair’s legal costs?

The figures obtained via Freedom of Information by NationalWorld from the Ministry of Justice reveal £158,580.98 was paid out for Tustin’s solicitor costs.

The 32-year-old, who carried out a campaign of cruelty against Arthur, inflicted an “unsurvivable” brain injury on him while she was in sole care of him on 16 June, 2020. He died the following day and was found to have 130 bruises on his body.

Meanwhile, the money paid for Hughes’ defence was made up of £148,831.85 for solicitor costs and £111,826.14 for barrister fees.

In the FOI response it states: “The Legal Aid Agency is not yet in receipt of all of the claims associated with this recent criminal trial, which are received and paid in arrears. Where a trial has only recently concluded, further claims may continue to be made until the billing process has been completed by all of the lawyers involved.

“The above figures are therefore accurate as at the time of writing, but are subject to change until all fees have been submitted, considered and paid.”

A Legal Aid Agency spokesperson said: “Tustin and Hughes did not receive a penny. This money went to lawyers so they could face justice and ultimately be imprisoned. ”

Who is eligible for legal aid?

In England and Wales anyone facing a Crown Court trial is eligible for legal aid, subject to a strict means test.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will seek repayment of legal aid fees if a person is found guilty and they can afford to repay.

Depending on their income, applicants for criminal legal aid can be required to pay contributions up to the entire cost of the defence.

Without legal representation criminals could argue their trial was unfair and convictions could be quashed. If they hold assets like property the LAA can apply for court orders that ensure it receives some of the proceeds of their sale.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland legal aid is also based on income and is administered by agencies in both nations.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

What is the latest with the case?

After the pair were sentenced it was announced that the Attorney General was looking at the case to see if the sentences imposed were too low.

Tustin carried out the fatal assault at her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, violently shaking him and repeatedly banging his head, likely against the hallway wall.

She then callously took a photograph of the unconscious youngster on her mobile phone, while he lay dying in her hall, and then sent the image to Hughes.

Hughes was convicted of manslaughter after encouraging the killing by his actions, including sending a text message to Tustin 18 hours before the fatal assault telling her “just end him”. Both Tustin and Hughes were also convicted of child cruelty charges.

The jail sentences handed to the pair have subsequently been referred to the Court of Appeal for being too lenient.

The Attorney General Suella Braverman referred the sentences of Tustin and Hughes to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.

Speaking at the end of last month she said: “I have carefully considered the details of this case, and I have decided to refer the sentences to the Court of Appeal as I believe them to be too low.”

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