The mother of Star Hobson could have her eight-year jail term for causing or allowing the toddler’s death increased by Court of Appeal judges.
Frankie Smith, 20, was jailed at Bradford Crown Court in December last year for her role in the death of her 16-month-old daughter, who was killed by Smith’s former partner Savannah Brockhill.
Smith’s sentence has been referred to the court by the Attorney General’s Office under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme, and senior judges will consider whether to increase it at a hearing on Tuesday.
Star died after she was taken to hospital in September 2020, having suffered “utterly catastrophic” and “unsurvivable” injuries at Brockhill’s hands.
Brockhill, 28, a bouncer and security guard, was found guilty of Star’s murder, while Smith was found guilty of causing or allowing her death following a trial at Bradford Crown Court.
During the trial, jurors heard Smith’s family and friends had growing fears about bruising they saw on the little girl in the months before she died and made a series of complaints to social services.
In each case Brockhill, of Hawthorn Close, Keighley, and Smith, of Wesley Place, Halifax Road, Keighley, managed to convince social workers that marks on Star were accidental or that the complaints were made maliciously by people who did not like their relationship.
Prosecutors described how the injuries that caused Star’s death involved extensive damage to her abdominal cavity “caused by a severe and forceful blow or blows, either in the form of punching, stamping or kicking to the abdomen”.
Jurors also heard there were other injuries on her body which meant that “in the course of her short life, Star had suffered a number of significant injuries at different times”.
Sentencing Brockhill and Smith, judge Mrs Justice Lambert said Star’s “short life was marked by neglect, cruelty and injury”.
She was found to have suffered two brain injuries, numerous ribs fractures, the fracture and refracture of her leg, and a skull fracture when she died.
Attorney General Suella Braverman announced in January that she would be referring Smith’s sentence to the Court of Appeal, describing the case as “tragic and extremely upsetting” and saying she believes Smith’s eight-year term was “unduly lenient”.
However, she said she could not recommend any increase to the sentence Brockhill, who was handed a life term with a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Ms Braverman said at that time: “This case will have caused upset to anyone who read about it, but my job is to decide if a sentence appears to be too low based solely on the facts of the case.
“I have carefully considered the details of this case, and I concluded that I can refer Frankie Smith’s sentence to the Court of Appeal as I believe it is unduly lenient.
“However, I have concluded that I cannot refer Savannah Brockhill’s sentence.”
Dame Victoria Sharp, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker are due to hear the case from 10.30am on Tuesday.
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