Thousands support petition for tougher action on child cruelty

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MORE than 4,000 people are backing a campaign by the adoptive parents of a boy who was ‘seconds away from dying’ after being abused as a new-born baby.

They have launched an online petition, backed by Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat, calling for stiffer sentences for those who commit such crimes.

Baby Tony was admitted to hospital at 41 days old in November 2014 suffering from multiple fractures of all his limbs, joint dislocations, blunt trauma impact to his face and many other injuries.

He has since been adopted by Paula and Mark Hudgell of Kings Hill, who are now demanding ‘Tougher Sentences for Child Neglect and Cruelty’.

Mrs Hudgell said: ‘It had been left anything up to 10 days before he was taken to the doctors in an unresponsive state.

‘He was seconds away from dying when they finally sought medical help.

‘By this time his poor body had given up to the injuries and he developed sepsis, toxic shock and multi-organ failure.

She added: ‘He was on the brink of death and if it wasn’t for the amazing NHS working so quickly and tirelessly on him for the next three months he would not have survived.’

However, last year he had to have both his legs amputated because of the injuries and infection.

He will still need multiple operations for the rest of his life and is deaf in one ear. But his adoptive mother says ‘he is a happy three-year-old that loves life’.

These children need more protection and justice. Who will fight for them?

In February this year, Tony Smith and Jody Simpson were found guilty of causing or allowing serious harm to a child and child cruelty for the abuse they committed against their son.

They were sentenced to a maximum of 10 years on the first charge and five years on the second, with the terms to run concurrently rather than consecutively.

If Baby Tony had died, the sentence would have been increased by four years.

Now Simpson has launched an appeal against the length of her sentence.

Mrs Hudgell was shocked to hear that development. But she said: ‘The reason for this petition is not to change the sentence already given but for Parliament to raise the threshold of maximum sentences for future cases.

‘These children need more protection and justice. Sadly too many are just statistics and fall through the net, and who will fight for them?

‘I believe baby Tony is here for a reason, he fought so hard for those first few months of his life and now we all need to fight to change the outcomes of other cases.’

Mr Tugendhat worked with the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] and Kent Police to have Smith and Simpson brought to justice.

He has also been putting pressure on the Ministry of Justice to impose longer sentences in such cases.

In the Times this week Mr Tugendhat has voiced his support for the Hudgells’ petition, saying: ‘For all the violence, suffering and pain that two parents inflicted on their five-week-old son, they were handed just 10 years in prison.

‘They’ll only be in prison for few years but for Tony, it’s a lifetime.’

He added: ‘They had to fight hard for Tony’s torturers to be prosecuted in the first place.

‘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.

‘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.

‘When we see cases like this, it shows this is not good enough. Tony Smith and Jody Simpson received the maximum sentence available, but they’ll be out before the next World Cup. That’s not right.’

A spokesperson for the NSPCC told the Times: ‘What -happened to Baby Tony was tragic and -unthinkably cruel.

‘While his young life has forever been changed by the horrendous abuse he endured, his future with a new family is now much brighter.

For more information about the petition, visit and search for #justiceforbear

PICTURE: TURNING THE TIDE: Baby Tony is a ‘happy three-year-old that loves life’

Death of Bailey Smyth-Osborne

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court is currently hearing the trial of Tonbridge parents Marina Smyth and Michael Osborne.

They are charged with causing or allowing serious physical harm to their son Bailey Smyth-Osborne, who died at 19 days old.

The family lived on Walters Farm Road. Bailey was born healthy and without complications.

Smyth, 21, and Osborne, 22, found him stiff, cold and not breathing on December 5 2016.

The court was told that Bailey suffered head injuries, a bruised penis and a fractured leg before his death from pneumonia and sepsis.

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight said Bailey had been subjected to ‘more than one’ blunt impact of mild to moderate force, as well as a yanking and twisting motion to his left leg.

It is alleged one of his parents caused the injuries while the other was aware and failed to protect him.

The causes of death were recorded as pneumonia, sepsis and a cold-like virus, but doctors also found the injuries.

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