Child abusers could now face life in prison under government-backed plans
The new plans have been dubbed 'Tony's Law' after seven-year-old Tony Hudgell
The government has announced changes to the law that will see abusive parents who allow the death of their child or a vulnerable adult in their care face life imprisonment.
The plans for tougher sentences come after a campaign from MP Tom Tugendhat and the family of seven-year-old Tony Hudgell, who had to have both of his legs amputated as a result of the abuse he received at the hands of his birth parents.
Ministers are looking to add maximum punishments for a range of child cruelty offences to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently going through parliament.
The changes have been dubbed Tony's Law and have been welcomed by his adopted mother Paula Hudgell, who said more had to be done to protect vulnerable children.
Tony was injured by his biological parents when he was just six weeks old, leaving him with broken fingers and toes and torn ligaments in his legs. His parents waited 10 days before eventually deciding to take him to a doctor.
His legs had to be amputated because of his injuries and he is now wheelchair-bound.
His parents received the maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars in 2018.
However under the new plans, the maximum penalty for causing child cruelty or allowing serious physical harm increases from 10 years to 14 years.
Plus, anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care would face up to life imprisonment, rather than the current 14-year maximum.
I'm introducing Tony’s Law to increase the maximum penalties for child cruelty offences – ensuring punishments fit the severity of these awful crimes.
The justice system is there to protect the vulnerable, and no-one is more vulnerable than a young child.#TonysLaw pic.twitter.com/Y7aNqQilpR
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) November 30, 2021
In a statement, Ms Hudgell said: "We are delighted that Tony’s Law is being backed by the Government.
"It’s been our hope since those who abused our son were jailed in 2018 that more could be done to protect other children, the most vulnerable members of our society.
"I can’t thank the public enough for the support they have shown through this nearly four-year campaign, but especially thanks to Tom Tugendhat who has worked tirelessly with me, also my friend Julia Roberts, a court reporter, and my friends and family it was definitely a team effort."
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the changes were needed because "the law must provide maximum protection to the most vulnerable and no-one is more vulnerable than a young child".
He paid tribute to the "courage of young Tony Hudgell and his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark".
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