Child abusers face life in prison under 'Tony's Law' from this week

·4-min read
Tony Hudgell, who uses prosthetic legs, takes the final steps in his fundraising walk in West Malling Kent, with mum, Paula and dad Mark. Five-year-old Tony has raised more than �1,000,000 for the Evelina London Children's Hospital, who have cared for him since he was four-months-old, by walking every day in June, covering a distance of 10 kilometres.
Tony Hudgell, centre, who uses prosthetic legs, on a fundraising walk with his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark. (PA)

Child abusers could face life in prison under a new law that comes into force this week.

'Tony's Law' is named after seven-year-old Tony Hudgell, who lost both his legs after being tortured by his parents.

His mother Jody Simpson and father Tony Smith were each sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison.

Under the new law, added as an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, after years of campaigning from Tony's adoptive parents, child abusers can be sentenced to life in prison, up from the current maximum of 14 years.

Tony, from West Malling, Kent, was abused by Simpson and Smith as a baby and had to have his legs amputated.

Watch: Abuse victim Tony Hudgell's law named after him

He was rushed to hospital in 2014 when he was just 41 days old with multiple organ failure, numerous fractures and sepsis following the abuse by his parents.

Following a miraculous recovery after the loss of his legs, Tony was adopted by Paula and Mark Hudgell, who have campaigned for longer sentences for child abusers.

In 2020, Tony raised more than £1m for the Evelina London Children's Hospital which saved his life, by walking every day for the month of June

Under Tony's Law, anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care will face up to life imprisonment – rather than the current 14-year maximum.

The offences of causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child, and cruelty to a person under 16, will also incur tougher maximum penalties – increasing from 10 to 14 years.

Tony Hudgell, who uses prosthetic legs, holds a trophy after taking the final steps in his fundraising walk in West Malling Kent, with mum, Paula and dad Mark. Five-year-old Tony has raised more than �1,000,000 for the Evelina London Children's Hospital, who have cared for him since he was four-months-old, by walking every day in June, covering a distance of 10 kilometres.
Tony Hudgell, with his adoptive parents Paula and Mark, who have successfully campaigned for a change to the sentencing laws concerning child abusers. (PA)

The law was introduced after campaigning from Tony's adoptive parents and Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat.

Justice secretary Dominic Raab told the Mail Online, which reported that the law is set to come into force this week: "I pay tribute to Tony and his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark. This is a victory for them."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice told Yahoo News UK the new law will come into force on Tuesday.

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When the plans were announced last November, Raab said: "The law must provide maximum protection to the most vulnerable and no one is more vulnerable than a young child."

Tony's adoptive mother, Paula, said at the time: "We are delighted that Tony’s Law is being backed by the government. It’s been our hope since those who abused our son were jailed in 2018 that more could be done to protect other children, the most vulnerable members of our society.

"This is for Tony and all the babies and children that suffered or lost their lives at the hands of their abusers."

Smith, Tony's father, was held hostage in his cell at HMP Swaleside in August 2018 and tortured by two fellow inmates.

He was tied up and had 12 teeth knocked out during the attack, Maidstone Crown Court heard in May.

His attackers, Michael Stewart and Nathan Odgers, both had their jail terms extended.

There have been a number of high-profile cases of young children suffering at the hands of abusers.

Undated family handout file photo issued by West Midlands Police of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. The Government has announced a major review into the circumstances which led to the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. It aims to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with Arthur in the months before he was murdered by stepmother Emma Tustin at their home in Solihull. Issue date: Sunday December 5, 2021.
Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was murdered by his stepmother Emma Tustin at their home in Solihull, West Midlands. (PA)
Undated handout photo issued by West Midlands Police of Emma Tustin and and Thomas Hughes. The jail sentences handed to the pair who killed six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, have been referred to the Court of Appeal for being too lenient, Attorney General Suella Braverman has announced. Issue date: Friday December 31, 2021.
Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes were jailed for killing six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. (PA)

Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was murdered in June 2020 by his stepmother Emma Tustin at her home in Solihull, West Midlands.

Tustin was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 29 years, while Arthur's father, Thomas Hughes, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 21 years.

Their trial heard that 130 bruises were found on Arthur's body after his death. He was subjected to salt poisoning and deprived of food and drink by the couple.

He suffered an unsurvivable brain injury while in his stepmother's care.

Star Hobson was 16 months old when she was murdered by her mother's girlfriend, Savannah Brockhill, in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in September 2020.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of 16-month-old Star Hobson. Frankie Smith, the mother of murdered toddler Star Hobson, has had her eight-year prison sentence for causing or allowing her daughter???s death increased to 12 years at the Court of Appeal. Issue date: Tuesday March 15, 2022.
Sixteen-month-old Star Hobson was murdered by her mother's girlfriend in September 2020. (PA)
Undated handout file photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of Frankie Smith, the mother of murdered toddler Star Hobson, who has had her eight-year prison sentence for causing or allowing her daughter's death increased to 12 years at the Court of Appeal. Issue date: Tuesday March 15, 2022.
Frankie Smith, the mother of murdered toddler Star Hobson, was jailed for 12 years for causing or allowing her daughter's death. (PA)
Undated handout photo issued by West Yorkshire Police of Savannah Brockhill who is due to be sentenced at Bradford Crown Court of murdering 16-month-old Star Hobson who died from
Savannah Brockhill, pictured, murdered 16-month-old Star Hobson at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in September 2020. (PA)

A court heard that the "fatal punch or kick" which killed Star was delivered with the "force of a car crash". She had other older injuries, including a fractured skull and ankle.

Her mother, Frankie Smith, was found guilty of causing or allowing Star's death and was sentenced to eight years in prison, later increased on appeal to 12 years.

Watch: Boy with prosthetic legs raises more than £1m for charity

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