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Tony was a month old when his parents swung him by his ankles, leaving him to suffer a lifelong injury.

Warning: This post deals with child abuse and may be distressing for some readers. 

Three-year-old Tony Smith is now living in a stable home, safe and loved by his adoptive parents Mark and Paula Hudgell and his siblings.

But before he was taken from his abusive parents as a baby, they managed to leave him with a permanent, life-altering reminder of the horrific pain they inflicted on him.

When Tony was just a month old his birth parents, Tony Smith and Jodie Simpson, swung him by his ankles, resulting in two legs broken in eight places.

The pair had left him in agony for 10 days before seeking medical treatment. When he eventually made it to hospital, he was “seconds away” from death due to sepsis, his adoptive mother later said.

baby-tony-smith
Image: ITV This Morning.

In hospital, the pair claimed his injuries were caused by a "terrible accident".

But authorities were suspicious enough of their claims to place him with foster parents.

This week on UK breakfast program This Morning Paula described seeing her now-son for the first time.

"I was given very little background other than his limbs were broken, which I thought... 'bones mend'," she told hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.

"Seeing him initially with two plaster casts on his legs, I thought they would just mend. His big brown eyes, he was tiny, so tiny."

tony-hosts
Image: ITV This Morning.
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While Paula and her husband Mark were able to provide Tony with the care he needed, the abuse from his parents continued, as they were allowed to have two-hour visits with him three times a week. Shockingly, despite Tony experiencing "night terrors" after each visit, that visiting schedule was kept up for seven months.

Although Paula said these visits were "supervised", Tony would return with injuries.

As she explained, the cruel pair pulled down his cast and snapped the splint on his leg. These attempts to hamper his recovery eventually forced Paula and Mark to make the incredibly difficult to amputate Tony's legs last year - in May the left and in October, the right.

"It was so hard. Mark and I found it extremely difficult [to make the decision to amputate]," she said, adding they'd looked at every possible alternative.

"As it turned out when we had his legs amputated there were no other options."

Watch Tony talk about his favourite TV show, Peppa Pig. Post continues.

Video via This Morning

After beginning the process to adopt Tony in March 2015, a year later they became his legal parents and continued the fight to see his birth parents jailed for their crimes.

The case had been initially dropped by the UK's child protection agency, but after tireless campaigning, the case was pursued by the police. And in February, Smith and Simpson were jailed for 10 years for their "series of spiteful assaults".

When Tony and his adoptive parents appeared on This Morning, he looked like a happy but shy little boy who was excited to meet host Holly and a little confused at seeing himself on a monitor.  

His story prompted an outpouring of emotional social media comments from viewers, who spoke of being in tears.

"What a heartbreaking story. But he is such a brave boy and his adopted parents are so wonderful. Total wreck watching," another wrote.

If this has post raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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