Tony Hudgell’s adoptive mother welcomes halting of boy’s father’s release from jail

·3-min read

The adoptive mother of Tony Hudgell, a little boy tortured by his birth parents, has welcomed a move to stop the release of his father from prison.

Tony, who is seven now, was so badly abused at the hands of his mother Jody Simpson and father Anthony Smith that he needed to have both legs amputated.

Both were jailed for 10 years in 2018.

Tony Hudgell with his adoptive mum, Paula and dad Mark (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Tony Hudgell with his adoptive mum, Paula and adoptive dad Mark (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Smith had been due for release in early September at the halfway point of his sentence, but his case has been referred to the Parole Board by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, under new powers to protect the public from dangerous offenders.

The referral overrides the automatic conditional release of a prisoner in specific circumstances where public safety is deemed to be at risk.

Earlier this month, Simpson’s release on licence was also put on hold.

A decision on whether to release either or both of them will be made by the Parole Board in due course, the Ministry of Justice said.

Tony’s adoptive mother, Paula Hudgell, told the PA news agency: “Once again we are extremely grateful that Dominic Raab has stepped in on Anthony Smith’s release.

“It shows the importance of why Tony’s Law needed to come into force as sentences absolutely were too lenient.

“It also still highlights the absolute need for a child cruelty register.”

Mr Raab said he wanted to do “everything in my power to prevent another child enduring the abuse inflicted on Tony Hudgell”.

He said: “The first duty of government is to protect the most vulnerable – and no-one is more vulnerable than a child. I will do everything in my power to prevent another child enduring the abuse inflicted on Tony Hudgell.

“That’s why I’ve put Anthony Smith’s release on hold and will be referring his case to the Parole Board so that any risk he might pose is thoroughly checked.”

Tougher sentencing for child abusers came into force in June, meaning anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their household can now be given up to life in prison – increased from the previous 14-year maximum.

The sentencing changes under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 are known as “Tony’s Law”, following campaigning by the youngster’s adoptive family.

Tony was 41 days old when he was assaulted by his birth parents, an attack which caused multiple fractures, dislocations and blunt trauma to the face, leading to organ failure, toxic shock and sepsis.

He was left untreated and in agony for 10 days, and due to the extent of his injuries both his legs had to be amputated.

Mrs Hudgell previously welcomed the halting of Simpson’s automatic release, saying she was “over the moon”.

Of her son, she said earlier this month: “Tony suffers every single day, and their sentence doesn’t reflect the severity of the crime.

“These sentences were given out and I feel they should serve that time, it shouldn’t just be half that time.

“The seriousness of Tony’s injuries are life-long and that’s why we fought for tougher sentences.”