Child abusers will be jailed for LIFE under Tony's Law

Child abusers will be jailed for LIFE under Tony’s Law: Legislation inspired by seven-year-old boy who lost his legs due to being tortured by his parents comes into force this week – in wake of tragic deaths of little Arthur and Star

  • The government is introducing measures so that child abusers face longer in jail
  • Known as ‘Tony’s Law’, the most serious offenders could face life behind bars
  • Tony Hudgell lost his legs due to his cruel parents who were jailed for 10 years

Child abusers could face life in jail, up from the current maximum of 14 years, thanks to new tougher sentences being put into force from this week.

The change comes from Tony’s Law, named after Tony Hudgell, now seven, who lost both legs after being tortured by his parents.

Jody Simpson and Tony Smith got just ten years in prison, which was the maximum punishment for child cruelty offences at the time.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill amendment has been pushed through by Justice Secretary and Deputy PM Dominic Raab following a campaign by Tony’s adoptive parents Paula and Mark Hudgell.

Mr Raab said: ‘I pay tribute to Tony and his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark. This is a victory for them.’

The law change will bring an end to soft sentences for child abusers such as Baby P’s killer Jason Owen, who was let off with a six-year stretch in 2009. 

Anyone who now causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care will face up to life imprisonment, rather than 14 years.

The maximum penalty for child cruelty causing or allowing serious physical harm will rise from 10 years to 14 years.

New laws mean that child abusers could face life imprisonment rather than a maximum of 14 years. The rule has been dubbed ‘Tony’s Law’ who lost both his legs due to his abusive birth parents. (Tony pictured with his adoptive parents Paula and Mark Hudgell)


Tony’s birth parents Jody Simpson (left) and Tony Smith (right) were both jailed for child cruelty and received the then maximum sentence of 10 years, which will now be raised to 14 years under the new rules

Tony was admitted to the Evelina London Children’s in Southwark, south east London, in 2015 after he suffered horrific abuse from his birth parents Jody Simpson and Tony Smith

The Government has also set out social care reforms to help recruit more foster carers, increase support for social workers and improve the professional standards of those working in the sector.

Mrs Hudgell, from West Malling, Kent, ran a tireless campaign to ensure that ‘monsters stay behind bars for longer’.

She dedicated the victory to ‘Tony and all the babies and children that ­suffered or lost their lives at the hands of their abusers’.’I can’t thank enough the public, our friends and family, our MP, Tom Tugendhat, and Dominic Raab for their support in making this a reality.’

There are several high-profile cases which have shocked the public, both in the nature of the cruel crimes committed and by what many feel are very lenient sentences. 

Tony Hudgell 

Tony was barely a month old when he nearly died in hospital and had to have a double leg amputation due to severe abuse by his parents

Tony was just 41-days-old when he was rushed to hospital with multiple organ failure, numerous fractures and sepsis following horrific abuse at the hands of his parents, Jody Simpson and Tony Smith in 2014.

After a six week battle to save him, doctors made the decision to stop all but palliative care.

But they were unable to because Tony was a ward of court and the courts had closed for Christmas.

Incredibly, Tony fought back and was able to recover from his life-threatening injuries.

He was soon adopted by Paula and Mark Hudgell who have since successfully campaigned for longer sentences for anyone who seriously harms a child. 

 Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

Six-year-old Arthur was beaten and tortured before his murder at the hands of his stepmother


Emma Tustin was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 29 years and Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes waking up hours before he collapsed from fatal injuries on  CCTV

Six-year-old Arthur was beaten and tortured before his murder at the hands of stepmother Emma Tustin at her home in Solihull. 

Tustin was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 29 years and Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter.

Arthur was seen by social workers during the first national lockdown just two months before his death in Solihull, West Midlands, in June last year. But they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’ and closed the file.

Tustin and Hughes starved the youngster, force-fed him salt-laden dishes and made him stand alone for more than 14 hours a day, in a degrading, punishing and hellish regime over the last painful months of his life.

He was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of his father’s ‘evil’ partner Tustin.

Arthur, whose body was also covered in 130 bruises, died in hospital the next day.

Star Hobson 

Star Hobson died from ‘utterly catastrophic’ injuries at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire in September 2020. Her mother initially received and eight-year jail sentence 


Star’s mother Smith (left) was cleared of murder, but found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child. Brockhill (right) was convicted by a jury unanimously of murder

Social services missed five opportunities to stop Star’s killers in the months before her death on September 22, 2020, a court heard 

The injuries which caused the toddler’s death involved extensive damage to her abdominal cavity 

Star Hobson was only 16-months-old when she was killed at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Mother Frankie Smith, 20, was sentenced to 12 years, while her ex, Savannah Brockhill, 28, was convicted of murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years. 

In January 2020 Smith’s friend Holly Jones made contact with social services over concerns about domestic violence and how much time she is left looking after Star. Police and social workers visit Star but no concerns are raised.

In February Star went to live with her great-grandparents, David Fawcett and Anita Smith at their home in Baildon, Bradford, after Smith split up with Brockhill. 

Star was removed from Anita Smith’s house by her mother and taken to live with Smith and Brockhill.

In May Anita Smith contacts social services after she is told about Brockhill ‘slam-choking’ Star.

A month later David Fawcett posts a picture of Star with bruises on Facebook alongside a happier shot and with the caption ‘From this to this in five weeks, what’s going on Frankie?’

That month police take Star for a hospital examination. Smith says her daughter had hit her face on a coffee table.

Social services are contacted several times by friends and family and in September they closed the case after concluding the referral to be ‘malicious’.

A week later Star is seriously injured at the flat in Wesley Place, Keighley, and dies later in hospital.

Baby P 

Peter, who was initially named in the press as Baby P, died after suffering more than 50 injuries including a snapped spine and eight broken ribs

Baby P’s mother Tracey Connelly was jailed in 2009 and was released in 2013 on a lifelong licence but was recalled in 2015


Baby P, was tortured to death in 2007 by Connelly’s lover Steven Barker (left) and his brother Jason Owen (right) at their home in Tottenham, north London

Peter, who was publicly known as Baby P, died in north London on August 3 2007 at the hands of his mother, her lover Steven Barker and his brother Jason Owen.

Tracey Connelly, was jailed in 2009 and had been imprisoned indefinitely with a minimum term of five years for causing or allowing her son’s death and had been released in 2013 on a lifelong licence.

Baby P suffered more than 50 injuries, which included a snapped spine and eight broken ribs, despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over the final eight months of his life.

Steven Barker was jailed in 2009 for a minimum of 32 years for torturing the 17-month-old to death and Owen received a six year jail sentence for allowing the toddler to die.

Peter and three other children were sharing the four-bedroom house with their mother, her boyfriend and his brother when he died.

Three of the children, including Peter, were on Haringey’s Child Protection Register because of fears they were being neglected by the mother.

Connolly, who covered up the abuse of her son, was jailed in 2009 for a minimum of five years after admitting causing or allowing the death of her son Peter.

She was then freed on licence in 2013 but later recalled to prison in 2015 after it was found she had sent indecent images of herself to people obsessed with her notoriety.

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