Child amputee stranded at Gatwick after wheelchair left 'twisted and broken'

Tony Hudgell lost his legs after being tortured by his biological parents when he was a baby

Tony Hudgell lost his legs when he was only 41 days old. PA
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An eight-year-old British double amputee was left stranded at Gatwick airport after his wheelchair was broken by baggage handlers.

Tony Hudgell, who lost both of his legs after being tortured by biological parents Jody Simpson and Anthony Smith when he was a baby, was returning from a four-day trip to Lapland when his specially adapted wheelchair was left on the plane.

After being forced to wait five hours in the middle of the night for the chair to be brought out, it finally turned up “twisted and broken”, having been placed on the conveyor belt.

His adoptive parents, from West Malling in Kent, who booked assistance in advance for Tony, took to Twitter to complain about his treatment at Gatwick.

“Appalled with @jet2tweets @Gatwick_Airport have been stranded for 3 hrs now with no wheelchair as its still on the plane,” they wrote.

“3am no help. Double amputee, no legs as his wheelchair is his legs.

“Trying to get help or assistance and nothing.”

A customer service agent responded to say the airline was “incredibly sorry” to hear of his experience.

“We are currently trying to contact our team at LGW and we will look into fixing this for you,” said the agent.

But by that time, the wheelchair had already turned up mangled.

“Sorted now but 5 hours too late as far as a wheelchair user needs ignored,” tweeted his parents.

“Assistance was booked in advance. Should have been sorted and when it did come out, it was put on the conveyor belt and got twisted and bent. Full complaint on its way. Wheelchair cost us £6,500, so cross.”

Simpson and Smith’s abuse left Tony with several fractures, organ failure, toxic shock and sepsis, leaving him untreated and in pain for 10 days.

Doctors battled to save him for weeks, but his injuries were so severe. Both of his legs were amputated when he was 41 days old.

The pair were both jailed for 10 years in 2018 — the maximum sentence they could receive at the time for the crime.

Smith was due for automatic early release in September, but the move was blocked after intervention by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who did the same for Simpson.

Tougher sentencing was introduced for child abusers in the UK in the summer following campaigning by Tony’s adoptive family.

The changes, known as “Tony’s Law”, means that under the new legislation, Smith and Simpson could have received jail terms of up to 14 years, or life if a child dies.

“Going forward, we are pushing for a child cruelty register as well, so that when these offenders are released from prison, their movements are tracked,” said Tony’s mother, Ms Hudgell, at the time.

Updated: December 13, 2022, 11:56 AM