Dominic Raab Under Pressure To Bring In UK Child Cruelty Register After Approving ‘Tony’s Law’
© Photo : Family of Tony HudgellTony Hudgell's adoptive parents meet with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab on 29 November 2021
© Photo : Family of Tony Hudgell
A couple who injured their six-week-old baby boy so seriously he eventually had to have his legs amputated could be released from prison next year. But Tony Hudgell’s adoptive parents are determined people like them are banned from looking after children forever.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has agreed to increase the maximum sentences for child cruelty offences but campaigners want him to go further and introduce a register of offenders to prevent them harming other children.
On Monday, 29 November, Mr Raab met the adoptive parents of Tony Hudgell, who had to have both legs amputated as a result of severe abuse and neglect by his birth mother Jody Simpson and his father Tony Smith.
In 2018 the pair were convicted of child cruelty causing or allowing serious physical harm and were given the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Mr Raab promised to increase the maximum sentence to 14 years and to introduce a maximum sentence of life in prison for causing or allowing the death of a child.
© Photo : Kent PoliceTony Hudgell's birth paretns Jody Simpson and Tony Smith, who were jailed for cruelty and neglect
Tony Hudgell's birth paretns Jody Simpson and Tony Smith, who were jailed for cruelty and neglect
© Photo : Kent Police
The changes - known as ‘Tony’s Law’ - will part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is currently going through Parliament.
But Mrs Hudgell has urged Mr Raab to go further and introduce a Child Cruelty Register for people like Simpson and Smith.
She said: “They will only serve half of that 10 year sentence, so they will be out in September next year. They should never be allowed in the same room as a child. That child would be at risk.”
Mrs Hudgell said: “She is only 24 so she could easily have more children when she comes out and he could move in with someone who has children and she won’t know. Social services say they will be ‘on their radar’ but I don’t trust that. They were lost before and they could be lost again.”
She said she had no confidence that if Simpson and Smith moved away from Kent - where they inflicted the injuries on Tony - or changed their names they would be kept track of by social workers.
Mrs Hudgell said: “We need a Child Cruelty Register. There needs to be more communication between the criminal courts and the family courts. It’s a crazy system.”
© Photo : Family of Tony HudgellIn 2020 Tony Hudgell (pictured) raised £1.6 million for the children's hospital that treated him
In 2020 Tony Hudgell (pictured) raised £1.6 million for the children's hospital that treated him
© Photo : Family of Tony Hudgell
Mrs Hudgell fostered Tony from the age of four months and was later allowed to adopt him.
She said: “He first went into hospital when he was 41 days old. The doctors tried really hard to save his legs. He has had 27 operations. But his legs were like jelly, with so many false joints and sepsis. There was no hope really. It was a really difficult decision to make.”
Mrs Hudgell said Tony - who is now seven - is also deaf in one ear, has a deformed hand and is missing part of a hip joint as a result of the abuse he suffered in the first few weeks of his life.
She said people convicted of child cruelty or neglect offences should be put on a register which would follow them everywhere they go.
Mrs Hudgell pointed out women were entitled - under Sarah’s Law and Clare’s Law - to find out if their new boyfriends were on the Sex Offenders’ Register or had convictions for domestic violence.
But she said there was no such right to find out if a new partner had convictions for child cruelty or neglect.
Mrs Hudgell said: “When I spoke to Dominic Raab on Monday he said is there anything more I can do to help and I said ‘yes, we need a Child Cruelty Register’ and he said ‘oh, don’t we have one?’ ”
She said Mr Raab asked an aide to look into the idea.
Mrs Hudgell said Tony was a “happy little boy”, a “livewire” and a “ball of energy” who was “very strong and determined.”
Last year he walked more than 13 kilometres on his prosthetic legs and managed to raise £1.6 million for Evelina’s London Children’s Hospital.