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Paula Hudgell says son Tony was 'failed by the system' after serious case review published

A mum says her adopted son who suffered horrific cruelty at the hands of his birth parents has been "failed by the system".

Jody Simpson and Antony Smith were both jailed for 10 years after snapping the bones in the legs of their son, Tony, leaving him fighting for his life at their Maidstone flat when just 41 days old.

However, a serious case review report has concluded there was "no evidence" to suggest social workers missed signs of abuse during early contact with Tony's biological family.

This is despite bosses finding an "unexplained three month delay" in referring the family to social workers and a failure to carry out a pre-birth assessment.

Smith, who had a history of drug use dating back to when he was a teenager, was on a heroin replacement therapy programme but a risk assessment into his addiction was also never undertaken.

Paula Hudgell, from Kings Hill, who adopted the four-year-old, and is campaigning for tougher sentences to be handed down to child abusers, slammed the report's findings and said she hoped lessons could be learned.

"I'm extremely disappointed with the outcome - little Tony was only five weeks old at the time when he was admitted to hospital with life changing injuries caused by both his birth parents," she said.

Tony and mum Paula Hudgell at home in Victoria Drive, Kings Hill...Picture: Sean Aidan..... (5819438)
Tony and mum Paula Hudgell at home in Victoria Drive, Kings Hill...Picture: Sean Aidan..... (5819438)

"I feel he was failed by the system as staff did not respond to the red flags highlighted in the review.

"I had to fight for this review - because Tony didn't die, the case was deemed to not be serious enough and I had to push for it after the trial last year.

"The learning outcomes from the review showed there was various learnings that need to take place, and some of these I feel should have already been protocol and acted upon.

"If these learning can help save another child, that would be fantastic, but if services had picked up on these dangers to Tony, even a day or two sooner, he would still have his legs today.

"There was multiple agencies involved with both Tony and Jody and it seemed that they all had a piece of the jigsaw, but nobody collated that information to make it a big picture."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

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