Michael Stewart and Nathan Odgers have been jailed for locking Anthony Smith in a cell and beating him repeatedly with socks full of tuna at Swaleside Prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
Two inmates who took a baby batterer hostage and attacked him with tuna tin-filled socks in a two-hour ordeal have each been jailed today.
Michael Stewart and Nathan Odgers struck Anthony Smith repeatedly with their improvised weapons after tying him to his cell bed at Swaleside Prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
They also threatened to ‘chop of his legs’ – a reference to how the appalling injuries Smith had inflicted on his son Tony Hudgell when he was just six weeks old left him needing a double amputation.
Stewart and Odgers were initially unaware of their captive’s identity and wicked crime, Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, was told.
The two men had pushed Smith, then aged 47, into his single cell on August 7 2018 and told him to go along with their hostage plan being staged in protest at being at the notorious category B jail dubbed ‘Stabside’.
Tony Hudgell survived the attack and is now a fundraising hero
It turned violent when fellow inmates shouted out who he was and why he was in jail.
Stewart and Odgers, themselves victims of physical child abuse and neglect, then launched their brutal assault which left the tins ‘heavily dented’ and Smith needing hospital treatment for multiple teeth fractures and bruising.
Six months earlier, he had been jailed for 10 years alongside girlfriend Jody Simpson after they were convicted at the same court of inflicting numerous limb fractures to their young son, resulting in multi-organ failure and sepsis.
His injuries were so horrific, including a hip dislocation and head trauma, the youngster had to have surgery to amputate both legs at the knee.
Stewart, 31, and Odgers, 36, both admitted false imprisonment and assault causing actual bodily harm.
Stewart, of no fixed address but with links to Bedford, was jailed for three years and eight months. Odgers, formerly from Hastings, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
As dangerous offenders, both will have to serve two-thirds of their jail terms and have a further five years added to any licence period.
They were originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but the court was told there was an issue as to how damaged Smith’s teeth were prior to the attack due to a previous unrelated prison assault.
Prosecutor Jane Carpenter said it was just before 4.45pm on August 7 2018 when Stewart and Odgers pounced on Smith, pushing him from behind and head-first onto his bed as he returned to his cell from collecting his meal.
He did not know the pair or have any issues with them, she added, and they had been placed on the same wing to await transfer to other prisons
With the cell door locking automatically behind them, they then held Smith down and used strips of his bedding to restrain him, telling him ‘do what we tell you to do and you’ll be alright’.
A wardrobe was pushed across the door and the observation panel blocked with toilet paper as the pair demanded to speak to a governor.
“They then pulled out socks weighted with full tins of tuna and began to hit Mr Smith over the head and body,” said Ms Carpenter.
“They were encouraging each other, saying ‘hit him harder, he deserves it’ and ‘cut his ear off’.”
As officers tried to get into the cell and a governor and a negotiation team were called, they continued to hit and kick their hostage, the court heard.
Adoptive mum Paula Hudgell with four-year-old Tony
Adoptive mum Paula Hudgell with four-year-old Tony
Some of the attack was captured on guards’ bodyworn camera, as well as sounds of violence and laughter, said Ms Carpenter.
“They discussed Mr Smith’s offence and said he should have his legs chopped off,” she told the court.
“One said ‘I should chop this guy to pieces. He deserves that at the very least’.”
At one point Smith complained he was being strangled, only for his captors to dismiss it as ‘play-fighting’, the court heard.
Officers in riot gear eventually forced their way into the cell just before 7pm and the men calmly surrendered. Smith was still tied to his bed.
“His face was extremely swollen and bruised. He was taken to hospital and found to have multiple dental fractures, bruising and tenderness to his eye socket and spine,” said the prosecutor.
“He had 12 tooth extractions, four fillings and was fitted with dentures to his upper teeth.”
Smith claimed to have also been threatened with a blade, but no such weapon was found.
He denied being part of the planned hostage-taking and said he had been left ‘in a great state of anxiety and fearful for the future’.
Neither Stewart, who has spent most of his adult life behind bars with 72 previous offences recorded against him including wounding, robbery and battery, nor Odgers were charged in respect of the attack until March last year.
Dad of four Odgers, who has 45 previous crimes to his name, was serving a sentence of 10-and-a-half years for offences of aggravated burglary and firearm possession at the time.
Sarah McIntyre, defending Stewart, said Smith had initially been ‘complicit’ to being held hostage.
Explaining how the violence erupted however, she told the court: “Mr Stewart says he didn’t know who the prisoner was and that others shouted to them who he was and that he had caused a child to have his legs amputated, hence the reference to having his legs chopped off.”
Allen Wellington, representing Odgers, said the attack happened in an ’emotional response’ to learning of their captive’s identity.
“Anthony Smith was effectively ‘in on this’, it was an agreement between them with the intention of Mr Odgers to be moved to another prison,” he told the court.
“There was no intention to use violence until he became aware of the nature of Mr Smith’s previous offence, communicated to them by other prisoners standing outside the cell.”
Judge Jeremy Donne QC remarked there was ‘a degree of public interest in this case, bearing in mind who the victim was’, and that Stewart and Odgers had both been ‘prejudiced by the extraordinary 19-month delay’ in charging and bringing the case to court.
Passing sentence, he accepted their motivation for the attack was a prison move and said had it been one of ‘retribution or vigilantism’ he doubted there would have been the delay in using violence.
As the victim of an attack in jail, Smith could now be in line for compensation as the prison service has an obligation to keep inmates safe at all times.
The child torturer is entitled to claim not only for his physical injuries but also any mental stress or trauma suffered.
The possible taxpayer-funded payout has been criticised by Paula Hudgell, the adoptive mum of Smith’s now seven-year-old son, Tony.
Tony became a pandemic lockdown hero when he raised more than £1.6million for the hospital which saved his life and provides ongoing treatment.
Paula, 53, who lives in West Malling, Kent, said she was ‘horrified’ that her son’s abuser could financially benefit from his injuries.
“I cannot condone this violence in any way but it clearly demonstrates the disgust felt by society – and even by hardened criminals – as to what Smith did to a defenceless, newborn baby,” she said.
“He and his girlfriend left Tony at death’s door and with injuries so bad that his life is affected forever.
“So it’s horrifying to think Smith could now be compensated for a few bruises and broken teeth.
“Perhaps if he is truly sorry for what he did, he will hand over any money he receives to charity.”
Last week, Tony’s Law introducing tougher jail terms for those convicted of child cruelty offences was given Royal Assent under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Smith and Simpson, convicted in February 2018 of offences of causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child and child cruelty, are due for release in August this year.