One of Arthur Labenjo-Hughes’ killers has had his jail sentence added to three years at the Court of Appeal.
The six-year-old’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, 32, was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 29 years for murder, while her father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was convicted of manslaughter in December last year. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Both appealed their convictions in May, after which Hughes’ jail term was increased to 24 years.
Their sentences were also challenged as unusually lenient.
However, the judges refused to commute Tustin’s sentence, finding that he should not be given a life sentence and that his current sentence was not unduly lenient.
The Court of Appeal was previously told that the child suffered a brain injury from which she could not survive and suffered “systematic cruelty amounting to torture” until her death.
Arthur, from Solhill in the West Midlands, was poisoned, starved and killed.
On Friday, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said: “Whatever the detailed written material we have seen, and considering the CCTV footage, it would be difficult to imagine that anyone, caring How could Arthur treat him, with the shared responsibility of, as Tustin did.
“The child cruelty she was involved in was at the top of the scale for sentencing purposes, if considered in isolation.”
The judge continued: “The manner of the attack reflected explosive violence calculated to inflict maximum harm rather than any grievous in the ordinary sense of the word.
“That alone doesn’t take the matter into 30-year minimum territory.
“It was a long and serious atrocity with an element of sadness that, in the judge’s reasoning, placed the case firmly at the 30-year minimum starting point.”
He added: “We think the judge was right to take the 30-year starting point for his primary reason, which is to do so to reflect the seriousness of Arthur’s murder and the appalling cruelty for which Tustin was responsible. It was before that.”
Tustin appealed only to crimes of child cruelty.
Tom Little QC, representing the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), said Tustin’s case “merits at least consideration for a life order”.
In written submissions, Mr Little said the trial judge failed to properly consider whether Tustin’s offenses were serious enough to require a life sentence.
Hughes’ sentence was found to be unduly lenient and increased to 24 years.
In Friday’s ruling, Lord Burnett said: “We think there is substance in the Attorney-General’s argument for manslaughter that there was sufficient risk in encouraging Tustin to harm Arthur in the way he did. She will do something to kill him.”
He continued: “This massacre was full of very serious features, including a serious breach of trust, as can be imagined in relation to a young boy who was particularly vulnerable, Hughes’ own style. As a result of the process.
“She lied to Arthur’s school to keep him at home to protect both her and Tustin.”
The judge added: “Manslaughter without the heinous crime deserved a sentence of 18 years or more.
“The judge’s view was that the offense was less than murder and, as we said, the risk of death, given previous conduct, was real.
“In our view the appropriate sentence is one of 24 years imprisonment to account for all the offenders.”
Mary Prior QC, for Tustin, argued that the sentencing judge “took a fair and appropriate course in this extremely difficult case”.
Ms Prior said the “toxicity of the relationship” between Tustin and Hughes created a scenario where both abused Arthur.
He added: “At the very least, Thomas Hughes was encouraging Emma Tustin to be cruel, to attack and mistreat her son.”