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Newspaper Columns

KM Column - Tony Hudgell Campaign - 26 July 2018

In February this year, Tony Smith and Jody Simpson were found guilty of causing serious harm to a child and child cruelty to their 41 day old son, Tony.

His parents waited 10 days before they took him for treatment for the injuries they had inflicted, and while recovering in hospital Tony developed sepsis, toxic shock and multiorgan failure. And sadly, just last year, as a result of the injuries and infections he had previously sustained, both of his legs were amputated.

Tony’s adoptive family, the Hudgells, had to fight hard for Tony’s torturers to be charged. When I first met them the Crown Prosecution Service said there wasn’t enough evidence. Together we worked with the Kent Police to make them change their minds.

But for all the violence, suffering, and pain that two parents inflicted on their 5-week-old son, they were handed just ten years in prison.

Five months on, and Jody Simpson is appealing the length of her sentence. While Tony’s real family Paula and Mark aren’t objecting to the appeal, they’re trying to ensure that more children like Tony are protected. That’s why they’re campaigning for longer maximum sentences.

In March I asked the Ministry of Justice to allow judges to give longer sentences for these abhorrent crimes. So far, they’re not shifting. That is not good enough. We need change, and the Hudgell family need more support. I will continue fighting for them, but we can’t do it without your help. They have created an online petition calling for the Secretary of State for implement tougher sentences for child neglect and cruelty, and need as many signatures as they can get. To support this incredibly important campaign, please visit change.org and search ‘#justiceforbear’. As an MP I deal with a wide range of issues, and this is one of the saddest.

Georgie Welford