15 December 2021

Toddler Star Hobson’s ‘evil’ murderer given life sentence and her mother also jailed for eight years

15 December 2021

The “pure evil” woman who murdered 16-month-old Star Hobson has been told she must serve a minimum of 25 years in prison.

Bouncer and security guard Savannah Brockhill, 28, was jailed for life at Bradford Crown Court alongside Star’s mother, Frankie Smith, 20, who was handed an eight-year sentence for causing or allowing her daughter’s death.

The killing of Star and details of how she was subjected to months of assaults and psychological harm have caused an outcry, especially as the trial came so soon after the case of murdered Solihull six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Star’s great-grandfather, David Fawcett, has led the questioning over why social services and police did not act despite five different family members and friends raising concerns with the authorities in the eight months before she died.

Savannah Brockhill has been jailed for life for murdering her girlfriend’s daughter, 16-month-old Star Hobson (West Yorkshire Police/PA) (PA Media)

After she was found guilty of murder on Tuesday, Brockhill was branded “pure evil” by Mr Fawcett, who said she had “ascended from the bowels of hell”.

On Wednesday, Brockhill was given a life sentence and ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years before she can be considered for parole, by the judge, Mrs Justice Lambert.

The Bradford Partnership, which includes the agencies which had contact with Star during her short life, said on Tuesday: “We need to fully understand why opportunities to better protect Star were missed.”

The safeguarding partnership said a review into the case will be published next month, but it “deeply regrets” that “not all the warning signs” were spotted.

And Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchliffe said Star was “let down”.

Keighley and Ilkley Tory MP Robbie Moore said Bradford Council leaders should “hang their heads in shame” and resign.

Star was taken to hospital from the flat where she lived with Smith in Wesley Place, Keighley, on September 22 2020, but her injuries were “utterly catastrophic” and “unsurvivable”, prosecutors told the two-month trial.

Jurors heard that Smith’s family and friends had growing fears about bruising they saw on the little girl in the months before she died.

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”.

The jury was shown a series of video clips which prosecutors said showed Star being assaulted, abused or humiliated, often posted on social media.

Smith was cleared of murder but was convicted of causing or allowing the toddler’s death – an offence with a 14-year maximum prison sentence.

Frankie Smith was cleared of murdering her daughter, Star Hobson, but found guilty of causing or allowing her death (West Yorkshire Police/PA) (PA Media)

But mitigating on Wednesday, Zafar Ali QC, for Smith, said: “She is herself a victim of the murder count, having lost her daughter.

“She was plainly unaware of the seriousness of the assaults being inflicted on her daughter.

Mr Ali asked the judge to take a number of things into account before sentencing Smith, including that she has no previous convictions and is “remorseful for her wilful ill-treatment of Star”.

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