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Child abusers could be given life behind bars as government backs new plans for tougher sentences

Child abusers could face life behind bars as part of the government’s proposed new crime legislation.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently going through Parliament, which would see an increase in maximum punishments for several child cruelty offences.

The tougher planned sentences could mean that anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care will face up to life imprisonment, instead of the current 14-year maximum.

MP Tom Tugendhat lead a campaign for the changes, which are also known as Tony’s Law, in support of the adoptive family of seven-year-old Tony Hudgell.

He had to have both his legs amputated in 2017 due to abuse he suffered from his birth parents.

Tony’s adoptive mother Paula Hudgell said that more had to be done to protect vulnerable children.

She added the planned tougher sentences are for “Tony and all the babies and children that suffered or lost their lives at the hands of their abusers”.

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.”

When Tony was a baby, he was attacked and left with broken fingers and toes, plus torn ligaments in his legs.

However, he was left untreated and in pain for 10 days.

The delay in getting treatment meant that both his legs had to be amputated, which has left Tony wheelchair-bound.

His birth parents were sentenced to the current maximum jail term of 10 years.

Tony has now gone on to help others with a fundraising walking challenge.

He set out to raise £500 for the hospital that saved his life by walking 10km in 30 days on his prosthetic legs, but ended up raising more than £1 million.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, 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 added: “I pay tribute to the courage of young Tony Hudgell and his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark.”



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