The adopted family of a baby who suffered life-changing fractures and septicaemia at the hands of his parents had to fight to see them brought to justice after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to launch legal proceedings.
Jody Simpson and Tony Smith were initially interviewed by police at the time their six-week-old son was fighting for his life in hospital in November 2014.
But despite the tot, also called Tony, having eight fractures to his limbs, and only ever being in the couple’s care, the Crown Prosecution Service took the decision not to charge either of them in relation to his horrific injuries.
Social services, who had taken the youngster into care, also reportedly failed to launch a legal fight against the ruling.
It was only the determination of his adopted parents and a two-year fight that finally saw Simpson and Smith held accountable for the harm inflicted to their newborn son and each jailed for 10 years yesterday.
Tony Smith lost both of his legs due to the abuse, for which both of his parents were jailed in Maidstone, Kent, yesterday
Baby Tony Smith, who was abused so viciously by his parents when he was just six weeks old that he had to have both legs amputated, pictured in 2014
Such was the severity of the tot’s fractures and resulting sepsis that he had to have both his legs amputated.
After seeing 24-year-old Simpson and Smith, 47, handed the maximum sentence for their crimes, little Tony’s adoptive mum said the family felt they owed it to him to win justice.
The 50-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: ‘It wasn’t about the sentence but the accountability, and that’s what I wanted more for Tony.
‘I was really determined. I needed to show him. He would have said to me later on “what happened? Was there justice for me?”
‘The last thing I wanted to say was no.’
A CPS spokesperson said today: ‘This was an extremely complex case. Initially the CPS decided that the evidential test for prosecution was not met but following an application under the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme the evidence was reconsidered and charges were subsequently authorised.’
Tony Smith, 46, and 24-year-old Jody Simpson were each sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for what were described as ‘a series of spiteful assaults’ on their very young son
Tony’s adoptive mother spoke to LBC today, saying the young child said tries to ‘overcome every obstacle’ and is a ‘happy little boy’.
Referring to the original CPS decision, she said: ‘I had fought for two years to get this back in front of the courts. They didn’t think they had a good enough case.
‘As soon as I became his legal mother, I re-appealed. And I certainly pushed it.’
LBC’s Nick Ferrari was left shocked and said: ‘Had you not done that, these two could be doing this again.’
On the challenge of him having prosthetic limbs she said: ‘It’s extremely difficult because of the problems he had where the infection taken hold so much it actually flushed away a lot of the bone so hence why he lost both of his lower legs.
‘But he does have an issue with his left hip where the actual ball part of the socket joint is missing, where the both has been flushed away and even the actual socket itself is quite thready.
‘He tries to overcome every obstacle, now he can stand on his stubbies (plastic protective covers) with a walking frame, he has started kicking a ball.’
When asked by Nick Ferrari how difficult it was for her to look at the people who had abused and tortured her son in court.
She said: ‘It was extremely difficult, with no emotions being shown by them.’
Shocking pictures have also revealed the squalor inside the flat in Maidstone, Kent, where Smith and Simpson abused their baby.
Pictures have been released of the terrible squalor inside the one-bedroom apartment the couple stayed in at Square Hill Road in Maidstone
They had denied causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child but were both unanimously found guilty less than an hour after a jury retired to consider verdicts.
Now pictures provided by the police and prosecution have revealed the terrible state of the one-bedroom flat in Maidstone, Kent, with dirty clothes piled all over the floor and rubbish piled into a child’s cot.
In the pictures piles of unsorted clothes are seen covering the floor along with dirty laundry hanging up in the bathroom.
The couple were also convicted of child cruelty in relation to their delay in seeking medical help as their son deteriorated in November 2014.
They told police they had had to wait at their 11th-storey one-bedroom flat in Square Hill Road, Maidstone, for a plumber to fix their boiler.
Sentencing at Maidstone Crown Court Judge Philip Statman said he was not allowed to comment on the maximum sentence being 10 years.
Shocking pictures of the conditions inside the flat where Tony Smith was abused have been released following his parents’ sentencing
Rubbish is pictured piled inside a child’s cot at the home in Maidstone where Tony Smith was abused by his parents
But he added: ‘What I can say is this; I cannot envisage a worse case than the one I have had to deal with over the course of the last two weeks.
‘Baby Tony was particularly vulnerable. Who can a child of 41 days turn to other than those who brought him into the world and are meant to love him unconditionally? That didn’t happen in this particular case.’
Maidstone Crown Court in Kent heard that by the time the baby, also called Tony, was seen by doctors at 41 days old, he was seconds from death with septicaemia.
He was grey, frothing at the mouth and grunting, with a ‘shockingly swollen’ body and in multiple organ failure.
It was only ‘aggressive’ medical treatment from the GP, paramedics and staff at Pembury Hospital in Kent and then London’s Evelina Children’s Hospital which saved his life.
The court heard the horrific fractures to both the youngster’s thighbones and lower legs, right ankle, left thumb and two bones in a big toe were revealed by subsequent x-rays.
Experts later concluded they would have been caused by yanking, pulling and twisting, with considerable force and up to 10 days before he was finally taken to his doctor.
Mother Jody Simpson, 24, and father also called Tony Smith, 46, denied causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child and cruelty but a jury took less than an hour to find them guilty
The dislocated fracture to the youngster’s right lower leg and ankle may have even been inflicted by a swinging action.
He was in so much pain from this one injury alone that he showed signs of distress even when sedated in hospital.
Sadly, the septicaemia was so severe that Tony, who has since been adopted and given a new identity, has been left with life-changing injuries.
As well as having had both legs amputated, his hip joints are so damaged by infection that they may not be able to even bear the weight of prosthetic limbs.
But in spite of his horrific start in life and facing on-going medical treatment and disability, the court heard how the youngster, now aged three, is thriving with his new family.
Amid remarkable court scenes in which jurors, staff and even the judge were reduced to tears before erupting into applause for his new parents, prosecutor Heather Stangoe introduced two images on a TV screen of a beaming, bright-eyed little boy giving a thumbs-up to the camera.
She then told the court: ‘Those injuries have had, and continue to have, a life-changing effect on Tony and his needs are exceptional.
Simpson (right) stared at the pictures of their son after the verdicts but Smith sat with his head bowed
‘Such a special little boy deserves a special family. And the other part of this case is that I can tell you he does have a wonderful family.
‘It is quite true to say he has just had the most wonderful impact on their life. He is a happy and delightful character in their family.
‘They want you to know how happy, how really very happy he is. He has ended up in just the most wonderful place.’
Simpson showed little emotion in the dock but craned her neck to see the photographs of her son. Smith, who has previous convictions for possessing heroin and assault causing actual bodily harm, sat with his head bowed.
Little Tony’s happy new home with adoptive parents revealed in impact statement
Prosecutor Heather Stangoe revealed that Tony Smith had found a ‘wonderful’ new home.
In her impact statement to the court she said Tony, who has had his name changed, had made a ‘wonderful impact’ on his new family.
He is still affected by the horrific injuries but does not let it define him, the court heard.
She said: ‘He was in a pitiful state and despite being four months old by then weighed just 9lb 7oz, and that included the weight of two plaster casts he had on his legs.
‘He was in a lot of pain. He was on morphine for the first few months and very strong antibiotics.
‘Very sadly, he was emotionally completely shut down – glazed eyes and absolutely no expression on his face.
‘His foster family took very special care of him and he went back to the Evelina hospital at least twice a week.
‘He was often quite distressed, not least when doctors undressed him to examine him.
‘He has had fairly intensive intervention with physiotherapy as well as speech and language therapy, his speech having been delayed by the amount of time he has spent in hospital.’
‘Those injuries have had, and continue to have, a life-changing effect on Tony and his needs are exceptional,’ she said.
‘Such a special little boy deserves a special family, and the other part of this case is that I can tell you he does have a wonderful family.
‘He is now part of a very happy family, with siblings, been adopted and had his name changed.
‘It is quite true to say he has just had the most wonderful impact on their life. He is a happy and delightful character in their family.’
‘They also wanted you to know that of course Tony is impacted about what happened, but it does not define who he is.
‘They want you to know how happy, how really very happy he is. He has ended up in just the most wonderful place.’
Jailing the pair yesterday, Judge Philip Statman said both were ‘equally culpable’ and had failed to protect their child, with Simpson putting her relationship with Smith before her son and showing no remorse.
He added that vigorous force would have been needed to inflict his fractures, and that any parent would have been immediately aware of such injuries.
Judge Statman said: ‘It is an aggravating feature that there was prolonged suffering in relation to baby Tony prior to him being taken to the GP.
‘It is of course the case that baby Tony was particularly vulnerable. Who can a child, a baby of 41 days, turn to other than those who have brought him into the world and are meant to love him unconditionally. That didn’t happen.
‘I cannot envisage a worse case than the one I have had to deal with over the course of the last two weeks.’
All seven women and five men on the jury returned for sentencing.
The offence of causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child carries a maximum sentence of 10 years when the child survives.
However, Miss Stangoe said it could not be said ‘with any degree of certainty who caused and who allowed’ harm to their son.
She added that although it was unknown whether the fractures were caused during one assault or on eight separate occasions, anyone caring for Tony would have been aware of the pain and distress he was in.
‘The period he was not treated was far longer than the eight hours that they say they were aware that he needed help or assistance,’ said Miss Stangoe.
‘When one bears in mind his age of just 41 days, what might be seen as a relatively short time for an adult is considerably more serious in an infant.’
Tony was born to the first-time parents a healthy 7lb 7oz during a home birth on October 8, 2014.
Social services were involved as they were aware of Smith’s long-standing heroin habit. Health visitors described them as being affectionate and caring with their son, and health visitors last called at their flat on November 6.
The court heard Simpson phoned her doctor on November 14 to say the baby had cold-like symptoms. She was advised to give him Calpol and take him to the surgery when his six-week check-up was due.
However, four days later he had deteriorated to such an extent that she finally took him to her GP.
He was in shock, with his eyes closed and lower limbs hard and swollen. Experts expressed surprise that an ambulance had not been called.
They also concluded that his fractures would have caused him significant pain and obvious signs of distress.
Smith denied hurting his son, describing himself as being ‘over the moon’ to be a father.
Simpson wept during cross-examination by Miss Stangoe when she agreed she ‘took a risk’ with her child’s safety and failed her ‘most important and principal’ job to protect him
Simpson herself told police Smith was a ‘brilliant’ dad and the couple stayed together until being remanded in custody six months before their trial.
But in court she claimed Smith ‘didn’t know his own strength’ and could be rough and heavy-handed when handling Tony.
She said she twice warned him to be more gentle when he gripped the baby too tight, raised him from the floor by his wrists, and lifted his legs by his ankles only to ‘drop them down fast’.
Simpson admitted however she never saw Smith harm their baby, and denied inflicting the injuries herself.
The couple, now of Sydney Road, Whitstable, Kent, even claimed that despite his young age, Tony was ‘active’, able to push himself up on his arms and beginning to crawl.
But Simpson wept during cross-examination by Miss Stangoe when she agreed she ‘took a risk’ with her child’s safety and failed her ‘most important and principal’ job to protect him.
She also admitted she still loved Smith.
At the start of their trial Miss Stangoe told the jury the prosecution did not have to prove who inflicted Tony’s injuries, or whether it was one or both of them.
But she said whoever caused harm, the other failed to take reasonable steps to protect the baby from the risk of injury.
They then delayed seeking help because they knew how serious his injuries were.
‘One or both of them had caused multiple fractures to this newborn baby and they must have realised he needed medical care,’ added Miss Stangoe.
‘They said they didn’t go to the doctors sooner because they were waiting for a plumber to mend a broken boiler. The prosecution suggest their delay was because they knew the cause of his illness and severity of injuries.
‘They were reluctant to seek medical help because they knew the truth.’
The pair were found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court (pictured) and were each sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday
Judge Statman described the work of all those involved in treating and saving the youngster’s life as ‘utterly remarkable’.
‘I cannot remember a case, and sadly I have had to do too many cases involving doctors coming to court, where the level of care has been higher than this one.
‘I am tempted to say ‘Thank goodness for the NHS’ because you know that poor baby was within seconds of death when taken to the doctor’s surgery.
‘Every single member of the health service who has come to treat him deserves the utmost praise.’
But Judge Statman saved his greatest praise for Tony’s adoptive family, which drew applause from the seven women and five men on the jury.
‘It is utterly remarkable that we have in our community those who foster children and those who look after them particularly when they have a disability,’ said the judge.
‘That shows the most wonderful compassion and caring side to the community in which we live.
‘Baby Tony’s adopted family are absolute stars. That is the only thing I think I can say. Absolute stars.’
Passing sentence, Judge Statman said he could not be certain as to the precise role of each parent in the injuries suffered by Tony.
But he said: ‘Whole neither of you can be sentenced as the perpetrator, both of you are to be sentenced for allowing the perpetrator to act as he or she did.’
The judge added that Tony’s injuries, stretching from his hand to his ankle, and the subsequent sepsis had put him ‘almost at the door of death’, and had changed his life dramatically.
His ankle injury, resulting from a sudden twist and yanking motion, would have needed vigorous force, and he would have cried every time it was touched.
His finger fractures were considered unusual and would have required considerable force to inflict.
‘He would have been in considerable pain following the inflicting of those injuries upon him,’ said the judge.
‘That overwhelming degree of harm inflicted in terms of his injuries by way of fracture and what occurred thereafter to him is something I have uppermost in my mind to consider.’
There was no evidence of Simpson suffering from postnatal depression or needing help to care for her son.
The judge added: ‘In my judgment you put your relationship with Tony Smith before your care for your child and I well understand that whatever the sentence of this court, that will be impregnated on you for the rest of your life.
‘You knew the difference between right and wrong.’
The court heard that it was Smith who told Simpson they had to wait for a plumber before taking their son to the doctor.
Judge Statman concluded he had also shown no remorse.
‘You failed to protect your baby’s needs. You traded them in in that regard.’
Ben Irwin, defending Smith, said he had had ‘genuine hopes and dreams’ when his son was born.
He added that events in Smith’s own childhood ‘had mirrored’ what happened to Tony.
Mr Irwin said Smith had also been a target of violence while in custody.
John Barker, defending Simpson, said she had a genuine love for her son but was ‘conflicted in a terrible way’ in also loving Smith.
But his argument that she had saved Tony’s life by taking him to the GP was dismissed by Judge Statman, who said ‘even of the most charitable view’ she could have dialled 999 on waking that morning and realising how ill he really was.
Baby Tony’s adopted mum welcomed the sentence but said the family was more concerned with winning justice for their ‘vibrant and confident’ little boy.
The 50-year-old, who cannot be named in order to protect Tony’s new identity, even went so far as to say she felt sorry for Simpson and Smith.
‘It wasn’t about the sentence but the accountability. That was more what I wanted for Tony,’ she added.
‘We are so lucky to have him. He is vibrant, so confident. He can go into any room and capture everybody.
‘Everyone who comes across him absolutely falls in love with him within seconds, even without knowing his disability. He has just got that charisma.’
Of the family’s decision to see justice for the youngster, she added: ‘He also has so much fight and determination. He has fought so much and battled so much, I had to give him something in return.’
Detective Inspector Ian Wadey of Kent Police who lead the investigation said after the sentencing: ‘This was a distressing case where injury and ill-health has been caused to a baby by those who should have been committed to his care and well-being, Jody Simpson and Tony Smith.
‘This child will have to live with the effects for the rest of his life and the parents can spend time reflecting on their actions and neglect during their time in prison.
‘I would like to thank the medical staff and experts who cared for the baby when he was admitted to hospital and who subsequently assisted us with this investigation.’
An NSPCC statement said: ‘This is a shocking and desperately sad case.
‘Simpson and Smith should have loved, protected, and kept their son safe from harm. Instead, they inflicted life-changing injuries on a defenceless baby and it is right that they are now behind bars as a consequence of their actions.
‘Babies and young children are completely dependent on those who care for them and we all have a duty to look out for their welfare.
‘Anyone concerned about a child is urged to contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000, while young people can call Childline on 0800 1111.’