Tony’s Law: Child abusers could face life imprisonment under plans for tougher sentences

The current maximum sentence for the offence is 14 years

Emily Atkinson
Tuesday 30 November 2021 19:02
<p>Tony Hudgell, who uses prosthetic legs, takes the final steps in his fundraising walk in West Malling Kent, with adoptive parents Paula and Mark (Gareth Fuller/PA)</p>

Tony Hudgell, who uses prosthetic legs, takes the final steps in his fundraising walk in West Malling Kent, with adoptive parents Paula and Mark (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Abusers in England and Wales who either allow or cause the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care could face up to life imprisonment under new plans from the government to introduce tougher sentences.

Maximum punishments for a range of child cruelty offences are among a series of measures ministers want to add to the Police Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently going through Parliament.

The current maximum sentence for the offence is 14 years. Under new proposals, abusers will face up to life behind bars.

The plans, campaigned for by Tonnbridge MP Tom Tugendhat, are also in place for sentences are to go up from 10 to 14 years for people who cause serious harm to children.

The changes, dubbed Tony’s Law, is named after Tony Hudgell, a seven-year-old who lost both legs after being abused as a baby by his birth parents. His adoptive mother said she was “delighted” by the proposals.

Tony had his legs amputated in 2017 and a year later his parents were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for the harm and abuse they had inflicted on their son.

Speaking on ITV News this morning, Paula and Mark Hudgell, Tony’s adoptive parents, welcomed the changes during a meeting with Dominic Raab, which was also attended by Tony.

Mrs Hudgell told the broadcaster: “Tony’s kept us going. There are an awful lot of stories out there... and the justice isn’t enough.

“Hopefully now - especially for all those babies and children that have probably lost their lives as well- this is for them.

She then added that 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”.

“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,” she explained.

“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.”

The justice secretary responded in saying changes were needed because “the law must provide maximum protection to the most vulnerable and no-one is more vulnerable than a young child”.

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.

During the height of the pandemic, the then five-year-old Tony Hudgell set out to walk 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and raised £500 for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

After completing the challenge in a series of daily walks he had attracted more than 1 million pounds of donations.

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