Hundreds release balloons in memory of little Arthur, 6, to 'show he was loved'

5 December 2021, 15:19 | Updated: 5 December 2021, 18:08

By Sophie Barnett

Hundreds of people have held a vigil in Solihull to remember six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was killed by his father and stepmother following months of horrific abuse.

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They let off balloons in memory of the six-year-old as they gathered outside the home of his stepmother Emma Tusting, where the six-year-old was left with an unsurvivable brain injury after a campaign of "cruel and inhuman" abuse

He was poisoned, starved and beaten by Tustin and his father Thomas Hughes in a prolonged campaign of abuse.

The pair were jailed this week and a national review into child safeguarding has since been announced by the government.

A local inspection of child services in Solihull where Arthur died will also take place, to establish how he was "failed" by the system designed to keep him safe.

Read more: Government 'not satisfied' with sentences for 'appalling' murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

People gather to pay tribute to six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes outside Emma Tustin's former address in Solihull, West Midlands.
People gather to pay tribute to six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes outside Emma Tustin's former address in Solihull, West Midlands. Picture: Alamy

Videos from the vigil show hundreds of people lining the street, with seas of blue balloons which were let off followed by a round of applause.

A person in the crowd can be heard shouting "goodbye Arthur", while another called "fly high always".

Tributes and flowers were laid outside his home, and a sign on the wall reads: "You are loved Arthur".

A Birmingham City flag was also placed at the scene, along with a picture of Arthur.

His maternal grandmother Madeleine Halcrow could be seen wiping away tears at the vigil while wearing a T-shirt bearing his face.

The gathering was organised by Kerry Vines, a resident of Cranmore Road, who said the vigil was held to "show he was loved".

In a post on Facebook ahead of the vigil she said: "Come on people let’s show our smiling superhero that our nation loves him today."

Tustin, 32, was jailed for life at Coventry Crown Court on Friday, with a minimum term of 29 years, after being found guilty of his murder, while Hughes, 29, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

There have been calls for their sentences to be increased, led by Solihull MP Julian Knight, who described them as "monsters".

Read more: 'We must listen to Arthur's voice now', says England's children's commissioner

Read more: Attorney General to review 'lenient' sentences of 'monsters' who killed Arthur, 6

He said the sentences are "too lenient" and "just not enough", and that Solihull still has "collective heartbreak" over the murder of young Arthur.

The Attorney General has since confirmed it will review the sentences which were handed to Tustin and Hughes on Friday.

Mr Knight said there is a "sense of anger" over how the tragedy was allowed to happen and said we need to ensure "those who failed him are held accountable".

Speaking to LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday show, Dominic Raab said he is "not satisfied" with the sentences given to the killers.

He told Tom Swarbrick: "I fully support the Attorney and ask the courts to look at this again.

"We wouldn’t be asking the court to look at this again if we felt satisfied."

Read more: Evil stepmum who murdered little Arthur, 6, jailed for life and his dad given 21 years

He added: "This is an appalling case and my heart goes out to that little boy, Arthur."

But he said the government is "toughening up the sentences for child cruelty".

The investigation will look into the ways social services and local authorities liaise with the criminal justice system in an attempt to learn lessons from the tragedy.

The national review will be led by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

This will replace and build upon the work of the original Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, which was paused while the court case was ongoing.

Read more: PM says "questions need to be answered" after murder of 6-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

The decision comes after it emerged during court proceedings that Arthur was visited by social workers just two months prior to his death, concluding there were "no safeguarding concerns."

A targeted area inspection will be also commissioned and led jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Probation.

This will consider what improvements are needed by all agencies who protect vulnerable children in Solihull, including how they work together.