Star Hobson: The missed opportunities that led to the murder of the 16-month-old 'blue-eyed girl'

  • Sangita Lal on the “catastrophic” injuries Star endured from the people who were might to keep her safe

Warning: This article contains details which some readers might find upsetting

When the convictions were read out at Bradford Crown Court - there was no sense of relief from Star Hobson's family. For them, there is no justice for their little 'blue-eyed girl', they called her, who they'll never see again. The only thought that gives them some hope, is that Star's story might prevent this happening to another child.

At just 16 months old, Star was killed at the hands of her mother's girlfriend Savannah Brockhill - a woman her mother Frankie Smith brought into her home. The pair started dating in November 2019 and soon after, so did the abuse towards Star.

For most of Star's short life, Brockhill beat and tortured the toddler, leaving her with injuries doctors likened to those caused by a car crash.

Doctors likened Star's injuries to those seen in a car crash. Credit: Family Handout

Star had several fractured bones and broken ribs on the day she died. Her fatal injuries though were shown to be internal bleeding caused by severe and forceful blows either through punching, stamping or kicking her abdomen.

There were also healed fractures too, showing Star had been beaten time and time again. She became a baby often seen with bruises, that were dismissed by Smith and Brockhill as clumsy falls but defined by doctors as brutal attacks and they didn't go unnoticed by Star's wider family.

  • Sangita Lal reports on the fact Star's family referred her to social services many times but nothing was done

Timeline of Star's life

In the nine months leading up to Star's death, several referrals were made to social services. Here are some of the key moments in her short life:


  • May 21 - Star Hobson is born

  • November - Savannah Brockhill and Frankie Smith begin a relationship.


  • January 23 - Smith's friend Holly Jones makes the first contact with social services over concerns about domestic violence and how much time she is left looking after Star. Police and social workers visit Star but no concerns are raised.

  • Early February - Star goes to live with her great-grandparents, David Fawcett and Anita Smith at their home in Baildon, Bradford, after Smith says she has split up with Brockhill.

  • April 26 - Star is removed from Anita Smith's house by her mother and taken to live with Smith and Brockhill in Keighley.

  • May 4 - Anita Smith contacts social services after she is told about Brockhill "slam-choking" Star.

  • June - David Fawcett posts a picture of Star with bruises on Facebook alongside a happier shot and with the caption "From this to this in five weeks, what's going on Frankie?"

  • June 21 - Star's father, Jordan Hobson, contacts social services. Police take Star for a hospital examination. Smith says her daughter had hit her face on a coffee table.

  • June 23 - Another friend of the Smith family contacts social services with concerns.

  • August 14 - David Fawcett and Anita Smith see Frankie and Star for the last time.

  • August 28 - David Fawcett is sent a video of Star with bruises and confronts Brockhill.

  • September 2 - Another of Star's great-grandfathers, Frank Smith, contacts social services after seeing video of bruises on the youngster's face. Social workers make an unannounced visit.

  • September 15 - Social services closes the case after concluding the referral to be malicious.

  • September 22 - Star is seriously injured at the flat in Wesley Place, Keighley, and dies later in hospital.


  • December 14 - Following a trial at Bradford Crown Court Brockhill is convicted of Star's murder while Smith is convicted of causing or allowing the toddler's death.

Star was just 16 months old when she was killed at her home. Credit: Family Handout

Speaking to Star's great-grandfather David Fawcett, he told ITV News: "You wake up in the morning, first thing you’re thinking of, thinking of Star. Same when I go to bed on the nights. She’s just on your mind all the time. You can't concentrate.

"It's the thought that you're never going to see her again, that's what hurts."

He added: "They've [social services] done their job but half-heartedly, but they have not followed it through and thought there might be more to this. We've seen Star, we've seen the kids around her, don't you think we should go down and see the lady who actually made the referral and get her information, that's what we though they should have done, if they had been doing their jobs properly."

Star's great-grandfather spoke of his heartbreak, saying he thinks about her all the time, including when he wakes up and goes to bed

But this story is coming just two weeks after that of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes' murder, now more news that another child hasn't been saved.

Star's referrals were made during a time when Bradford Council's Children Services department was rated inadequate. It was judged in 2018 following 'serious failures in social work practice'.

Earlier this year though the Department of Education appointed a commissioner after another Ofsted report found improvements weren't being made fast enough.

Director of Children's Services in Leeds - Steve Walker has now stepped in and will decide in January 2022 whether Bradford should regain its control over the department.