Baby Star Hobson 'went to hell before she went to heaven', says heartbroken great-grandad

Great-grandfather David Fawcett plays the guitar for baby Star who shakes her head and bobs with the music. Star was just 16 months old when she died from 'unsurvivable' injuries.

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

Baby Star Hobson was a "happy, happy, proper lovely baby" who was failed by social services after being abused by her mum and her mum's partner, her great-grandfather told ITV News.

Star died in September 2020 of "utterly catastrophic" and "unsurvivable" injuries to her abdomen consistent with being punched, stamped on or kicked, prosecutors said.

Today her mother's partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, was found guilty of murdering the 16-month-old and her mother Frankie Smith was convicted of causing or allowing the toddler's death at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Frankie Smith was found guilty of allowing the death of her daughter Star Hobson.

Social services were contacted multiple times from January 2020, the court heard, and Smith's family members and friends expressed concerns over bruises they saw on Star. There were a total of five referrals to social services in the nine months before Star was killed on September 22, 2020.

Great-grandfather David Fawcett spoke of his heartbreak more than a year after Star's death, saying he does not stop thinking about his great-granddaughter.

He described Star as a bubbly baby and a lover of music: "She just, she started wiggling about, shaking her head.

"I happened to have a guitar down there, so I started playing it and she was fascinated with it.

"So we did a couple of videos and she was absolutely amazing like and then Anita always used to put music on for her."

He added: " The time we had her, I'd just like to be able to bottle that time and then just take the cork out and just relive it over and over again because, you know, you just can't replace them sort of moments."

'What we discovered with Star, she loved music... she just she started wiggling about, shaking her head,' great-grandfather David Fawcett recalls the good times

Mr Fawcett claims Star had been let down by social services, saying a family member had put in a referral, but social workers apparently dismissed the report after visiting Smith's home and without getting more information from the family member.

He said: "It's like they've done their job, but it's half-heartedly. They've not sort of followed it through and thought that there might be more to this."

According to the great-grandfather, Smith's sister had reported that Brockhill had been "slam choking" an 11-month-old Star, throwing her around the bed, and holding her by one leg upside down over her cot.

Mr Fawcett, who occasionally helped care for Star, described how he would be reluctant to send her back to her mum.

'Poor little Star, she actually went to hell before she went to heaven'

He said: "The thing what really hurts me is, as I said, that moment when she were laid between us safe as houses. It were the thought of her (Smith or Brockhill) taking her off to that place in Doncaster.

"Her little heart must have been going… What are you going to do to me?

"You know, because we'd seen on several occasions, that's where all the abuse seemed to be taking place, you know."

Star Hobson died when she was just 16 months old. Credit: UGC

He added: "We took Star from that house (Smith and Brockhill's home) depressed. We just sort of got her here, got her all lovely and it felt like she'd been dragged back down tohell.

"She was happy, happy, proper lovely baby."

He continued: "I just felt like poor little Star, she actually went to hell before she went to heaven."

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

Opening up about his grief, Mr Fawcett said: "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.

"It's nice looking at pictures, videos, and that. We always just think she'll be a baby forever, that’s how we’ll see her like."

He added: "When the case is over with, people say justice will be served. But I don't think, there's not at the end of it.

"It’s not going to be a good ending for us really, we're never going to get Star back. And that's the sad thing really.

Star Hobson Credit: Family photograph

Star's mum Smith and her partner Brockhill denied inflicting the fatal injuries on the baby, with each saying it must have been the other.

Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC told Bradford Crown Court when he opened the prosecution case in October that “there was also a degree of cruelty and psychological harm” inflicted on Star in the weeks and months before she died, as well as physical assaults.

Jurors had been shown clips from a CCTV camera that prosecutors said showed Brockhill delivering a total of 21 blows to Star in a car over nearly three hours.

Leader of Bradford Council Susan Hinchcliffe said: "Star was let down and we all want to know if anything could have been done differently."

Ms Hinchliffe said the independent Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review will be published next month.

She said: "We want to make sure that Star's case also informs the national inquiry that has been launched as a result of the shocking murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

"Social workers in our district support a great many children and young people and carry out work in circumstances that are often very challenging. It is essential, therefore, that lessons are learned from Star's terrible death so that we can better protect our children."