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Too Lenient? The Killing of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

By Xuan Yi

Fans held a minute's applause in memory of Arthur during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea / Getty Images

The sentencing of the killers of 6-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has led to a national shock and mourning, as well as calls for legislative and legal review.

What Happened?

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died of a head injury on 16 June 2020. His stepmother had forcibly hit his head on a hard surface after poisoning him with salt. He was found to have 130 injuries after being routinely beaten, forced to stand for hours on his own, starved and dehydrated. Arthur's paternal grandmother had alerted social services by showing them a photograph of bruising on his body. Yet, social services found “no safeguarding concerns”. His stepmother was sentenced to 29 years imprisonment for murder and child cruelty, whilst his father was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

The Response

Crowds gathered in tribute in Arthur’s hometown of Solihull. Notably, football clubs across the UK such as Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa paid tribute to Arthur, intensifying the public scrutiny of the case.

The Attorney General's Office issued a statement: they would review the jail term of Arthur’s killers to “determine whether they were too low”. Amidst intense criticism of the inadequacy of public social care support in this case, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi announced a national inquiry into the case. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab also weighed in, stating he believed the sentences were too low, announcing his intention to raise the sentences for child cruelty going forward.


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