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Tony's Law: Tougher child cruelty sentences backed by government in new law named after abuse victim Tony Hudgell from Kings Hill


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A proposed law which would increase the jail time for child cruelty has received government backing.

Named 'Tony's Law' after double-amputee Tony Hudgell from Kings Hill, who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his biological parents, it will increase the maximum sentences available for child abusers.

Tony's Law, named after double amputee Tony Hudgell, has been backed by the government. Picture: David Tett
Tony's Law, named after double amputee Tony Hudgell, has been backed by the government. Picture: David Tett

The inspiring seven-year-old was left fighting for his life after he sustained several fractures that led to sepsis and toxic shock syndrome when he was just 41 days old.

The life-changing injuries resulted in both of his legs being amputated.

His abusers, Jody Simpson and Antony Smith were both sent to prison for 10 years in 2018, the maximum sentence available.

But now proposed legislation which would allow the courts to hand down much harsher sentences in such cases has received government backing following a high profile campaign led by his adoptive parents.

Tony's adoptive mother Paula Hudgell said she was " absolutely overwhelmed" at the news Tony's Law was being backed by the Ministry of Justice.

Paula Hudgell reacts to the news the MoJ is backing Tony's Law

"I was extremely emotional I have to admit I cried when [Justice Secretary] Dominic Raab told me," she said.

"I was absolutely overwhelmed. I mean we have worked for nearly four years for this and to finally have this day to be told we have done it is going to make such a difference to the most vulnerable in society, and that's what it is all about.

"We just wanted to be able to give justice to these poor babies and children, people like Tony. And the ones that have sadly lost their lives. It's justice for them.

Currently the courts can impose a life sentence on someone who is guilty of intentionally causing severe physical harm to an adult – but only ten years if that victim is a child, extended to 14 in the event of their death.

Under Tony's Law, those found guilty of the serious physical harm of a child would see their jail term increased to 14 years – and life where the abuse leads to death.

The family met with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab who told them they can expect Tony's Law to come into force "very soon".

MP Tom Tugendhat helped lead the campaigned with Tony Hudgell and his mum Paula.
MP Tom Tugendhat helped lead the campaigned with Tony Hudgell and his mum Paula.

Paula also shared her gratitude towards Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, who campaigned alongside the family to introduce the law, and who she described as "absolutely amazing" in his support.

"To think that a seven-year-old can actually make history and change the law - it's pretty incredible really," she added. "Obviously we weren't giving up, we were keeping up the fight."

The mum said the increase in sentencing powers would make a "massive" difference.

"Obviously when Tony's parents were convicted they received ten years but they only have to serve five years inside," she said.

"With this 14 year tariff and the new policy of having to serve two-thirds of their sentence would mean now they would have had to have spent nearly ten years behind bars, so to me that is massive."

Reacting to the announcement, Sir Peter Wanless, chief executive of the children's charity, NSPCC said: “The government's intention to increase sentences for child cruelty is a welcome recognition of the gravity of these horrific offences.

The moment Tony Hudgell completed his charity walk in Kings Hill. Picture: Just Giving / YouTube
The moment Tony Hudgell completed his charity walk in Kings Hill. Picture: Just Giving / YouTube

"It is positive news not just for the inspiring Tony Hudgell and his family, but for all children; and reinforces that no child should ever be subjected to such abhorrent abuse and cruelty."

However, the charity chief added "sentencing is only part of the picture".

"We would also urge the Lord Chancellor to ensure children who have been victims of child cruelty to have access to the support they need, including therapy and assistance from registered intermediaries who can help young victims or witnesses when giving evidence in court," he said.

"Alongside this, we need investment in keeping children safe through reforms to the justice system so cases can be dealt with quickly and without long, distressing delays.”

Last year, Tony became a symbol of hope during the pandemic after taking inspiration from Sir Captain Tom Moore and walking 10km on his prosthetic legs to raise £1.5million for the hospital that saved his life.

The Discovery School pupil - who walks with the help of crutches - was cheered across the finish line by well-wishers who braved the rain to see him complete his fundraising mission.

He has received numerous awards, had a book named after him and even met the Prime Minister.

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