Victory for ‘Tony’s Law’ as ministers eye tougher sentences for child cruelty
Tougher sentences for child cruelty are to be introduced in the name of a boy who had both legs amputated after being abused.
Tony’s Law will increase the maximum penalty for causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child from ten to 14 years, while causing the death of a child will rise from 14 years to life.
It is named after Tony Hudgell, now seven. His parents were both jailed for ten years. The amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill follows a campaign by his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark Hudgell, of Kent.
Tony Hudgell (pictured), who the law is named for, lost both legs due to abuse from his birth parents
In welcoming the changes Paula Hudgell said that more had to be done to protect vulnerable children and the planned tougher sentences are for “Tony and all the babies and children that suffered or lost their lives at the hands of their abusers”.
Tony was attacked when he was a baby and left with broken fingers and toes, plus torn ligaments in his legs.
He was left untreated and in agony for 10 days.
The terrible damage meant that both his legs had to be amputated and Tony is now wheelchair-bound.
His birth parents were sentenced to the current maximum jail term of 10 years.
The tougher planned sentences could mean that 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.
Under the changes, dubbed Tony’s Law, the maximum penalty for child cruelty causing or allowing serious physical harm from 10 years to 14 years.
The punishment for the crime of cruelty to a person under 16 will rise from 10 to 14 years’ imprisonment.
In a statement Ms Hudgell said: “We are delighted that Tony’s Law is being backed by the Government.
The law has been added as an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is currently being debated in the Commons and being spearheaded by Home Secretary Priti Patel
“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.
“I can’t thank the public enough for the support they have shown through this nearly four-year campaign, but especially thanks to Tom Tugendhat who has worked tirelessly with me, also my friend Julia Roberts, a court reporter and my friends and family it was definitely a team effort.”
Tony has gone on to help others with a fundraising walking challenge.
He set out to raise £500 for the hospital that saved his life by walking 10km in 30 days on his prosthetic legs, but ended up raising more than £1 million.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said the changes were needed because “the law must provide maximum protection to the most vulnerable and no-one is more vulnerable than a young child.”
He added: “I pay tribute to the courage of young Tony Hudgell and his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark.”