The adoptive mother of Tony Hudgell, a little boy who was tortured by his parents, has said she is “over the moon” that his birth mother may not be released from jail this week as planned.
Seven-year-old Tony was so badly abused at the hands of his parents, Jody Simpson and Anthony Smith, that he needed to have both legs amputated.
Both were jailed for 10 years in 2018, and Simpson had been due for release on licence at the halfway-point of her prison sentence on Friday.
But on Thursday, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab referred her case to the Parole Board – the first time he has used a new power introduced through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 to intervene in a high-profile case.
The powers have been used in two other cases previously, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Tony’s new mother, Paula Hudgell, said she felt “over the moon” with the potential change to Simpson’s sentence, and said it shows “how much Tony has touched everyone’s hearts”.
She told the PA news agency: “I’m over the moon and feel quite overwhelmed.
“It just makes you appreciate the severity of the case and how much Tony has touched everyone’s hearts.
“I didn’t expect it. I was almost waiting for her to be released.
“Tony suffers every single day, and their sentence doesn’t reflect the severity of the crime.
“These sentences were given out and I feel they should serve that time, it shouldn’t just be half that time.
“The seriousness of Tony’s injuries are life-long and that’s why we fought for tougher sentences.”
Mr Raab, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said: “Tony endured a horrific and systematic campaign of abuse from his birth parents, and we are duty bound to do everything possible to prevent another child suffering at their hands.
“So I have referred the case of Jody Simpson to the Parole Board, under new powers designed to keep prisoners incarcerated for longer when their release would put public safety at risk.”
Tougher sentencing for child abusers came into force in June, meaning anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their household can now be given up to life in prison – increased from the previous 14-year maximum.
The sentencing changes are known as “Tony’s Law”, following campaigning by the youngster’s adoptive family.
Tony was 41 days old when he was assaulted by his birth parents, an attack which caused multiple fractures, dislocations and blunt trauma to the face, leading to organ failure, toxic shock and sepsis.
He was left untreated and in agony for 10 days, and the terrible damage meant both his legs had to be amputated.
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