A 32-year-old woman accused of murdering her stepson, 6, has denied poisoning him with salt, and said that she was "scared" by her "bullying" partner who "constantly" thrashed his son.

In the weeks before Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died from head injuries in June 2020, Emma Tustin said that she was "scared" by her partner Thomas Hughes's behavior, reported Daily Mail.

Warning: Distressing content

The boy was allegedly forced by the couple to stand on a hallway step for 14 hours a day and the two reportedly subjected the child to "systematic, cruel behavior." Labinjo-Hughes was allegedly "deprived of basic living comforts" and was made to sleep on the floor after moving into Tustin's house near Solihull, West Midlands, England during the lockdown last March. The couple has denied multiple counts of child cruelty and murder.

The mother-of-two recently told jurors at Coventry Crown Court how she watched her partner pin his son against a door and he "constantly" smacked the boy. She said that the alleged abuse had started in April, with the smacking on the legs then in May, it was horrendous and it was the "worst it had become."

He threatened to report her to social services when she confronted her partner over it, she claimed. She was scared, and it stopped her in her tracks because she didn't want to risk losing her own kids.

After the boy's mom, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, was accused of murdering her partner, Gary Cunningham, two years ago, he was taken care by his dad.

Tustin was asked about the text messages she sent to her partner where she called the boy "Satan," and other "unpleasant names." She told the jury that she would tell him to shut up and call him a f***** liar, but things that she said in text messages, "they were vile."

In one message, her partner threatened to "take his jaw off his shoulders" and told Tustin to gag him or tie some rope around his mouth with a sock in it, but she denied acting on those instructions.

A medical expert suggested the boy was given at least 34 grams (0.075 pound) of salt, leading to hospital readings which were "off the scale." A video in which Tustin was carrying a bottle of salt before the child collapsed was shown to jurors. But she said that she often used salt to treat recurrent water infections, and denied putting salt in the boy's food.

She also claimed Labinjo-Hughes had threatened to stab her, and said that she had to hide the knives. She got emotional during trial and said that she had an abortion at 21 weeks while she was in custody, according to Birmingham Mail.

A police officer has been accused of killing a 6-year-old boy after the child repeatedly asked him money to buy food in Datia district, Madhya Pradesh, India. This is a representational image. Pixabay