New Tony’s Law States Child Abusers Can Face a Life Sentence If Found Guilty | The Law Is Named After an Abuse Survivor

New Tony’s Law States Child Abusers Can Face a Life Sentence If Found Guilty | The Law Is Named After an Abuse Survivor

Tony Hudgell was abused as an infant by his birth parents who were sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2018.

Child abusers in England and Wales may potentially face life in prison under new sentencing guidelines. The legislation, which is part of the Police, Crime, and Sentencing Act 2022, went into force two months following royal assent, reports BBC News.

The maximum term for anybody who causes or allows the death of a child has been raised from 14 years to life in prison. The maximum penalty for causing substantial injury to a child has also been increased, from ten to fourteen years.




It comes after the adoptive family of seven-year-old Tony Hudgell, who had both legs amputated due to abuse, launched a campaign for Tony's Law. The adoptive mother of Tony, Paula Hudgell, said this was, "wonderful." She added, "It feels quite surreal. We knew it was coming but for it to actually be here is absolutely wonderful." 

Tony was attacked as a newborn by his birth parents, leaving him with life-changing injuries. He sustained many fractures, was deaf in one ear, and had both of his legs amputated. His abusers were sentenced to 10 years in prison in February 2018 - the maximum sentence possible at the time.

Paule, a Kent resident, said, "We realized the sentences really weren't strong enough to fit the crimes, so I got on to my MP and we worked side-by-side and managed after a long time to actually get this through." It had been "a very long four years," she remarked, but it would "make such a difference to the judges' sentencing authority from now on."




She thanked Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tughendhat for their support. She said, "I couldn't have done it without him. He has more or less held my hand all the way through." Paula also commented on Tony's hardships as an infant where he was left untreated in pain for 10 days. She told BBC in 2021, "Tony is an inspiration every day, he never complains, he carries on no matter what is thrown at him - all the challenges, he just gets back up and carries on."

Family Matters counselor Mary Trevelyan applauded the change in the law. She said, "I'm not sure tougher sentencing will be a deterrent but it's a start, to say that the rest of society takes it very seriously." However, criminal defense counsel Malcom Fowler expressed concerns, despite being "humbled by Tony Hudgell's bravery" and "filled with admiration" for his adoptive parents.




He said, "If you give something a label it is beginning to look as though one size can fit all." He added, "We, as lawyers, know that the very reverse of the case. And constantly ratcheting up prison sentences is the very reverse of an answer." 

Laura Hoyano, emeritus professor of law at Oxford University, believes the opposite to be true. She said, "It's important sentences have the potential to reflect the full extent of the harm inflicted on a child. And I have long felt the maximum sentences were too low. So I applaud the persistence of Mr and Mrs Hudgell in securing this change. It's no mean feat."




Cover Image Source: ITV News/Youtube