Mother and partner guilty over death of 16-month-old Star Hobson

This video contains distressing images

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

A woman has been found guilty of murdering her partner's 16-month-old daughter.

Savannah Brockhill was convicted at Bradford Crown Court of killing Star Hobson, and Star’s mother Frankie Smith has been found guilty of causing or allowing the toddler’s death.

The two women inflicted the fatal injuries on Star at her home in Keighley in September last year.

The little girl suffered a cardiac arrest and died in hospital.

Frankie Smith (left) and Savannah Brockhill (right). Credit: West Yorkshire Police

Smith, 20, and her partner Brockhill, 28, both denied murder. The verdicts came back today (14 December) after a six-week trial.

The court heard Star was subjected to "kicking and stamping" as well as a "slam choke" in order to "toughen her up".

Jurors heard Star’s complexion was "waxy grey" when medics found her almost lifeless body.

The toddler vomited large amounts of brown fluid in an ambulance prior to being rushed to hospital and died soon after, the court heard.

  • Video shows the 999 call made by Savannah Brockhill

This video contains distressing images
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Alistair McDonald, prosecuting, told the jury Star had suffered a catalogue of injuries, including fractures to her shin, ribs and skull, as well as lacerations to a vein carrying blood between her leg and organs which leaked into her abdominal cavity.

He went on to say that almost half of Star’s blood had leaked into her abdomen from the ruptured vein and that the injuries she had suffered were "unsurvivable".

She had suffered such "catastrophic" injuries there was never any real chance of saving her life.

Videos and pictures shown to the jury saw Star with bruises to her face, eye and ear.

Mr McDonald said Star’s injuries had been caused by a "severe blow or blows" in the form of stamping on or kicking to the abdomen.

She also suffered a laceration to her liver, damage to her bowel, and bruising to her lung and pancreas.

  • Star filmed dancing along to music by her great-grandfather

Further injuries were also described to the jury, including fractures to Star's shin bone.

One of those fractures had been healing when it was fractured again. Both were said to be inflicted by “forceful twisting”, the court heard.

The Judge, Mrs Justice Lambert, said the pair will be sentenced tomorrow.

According to those in court, Smith cried uncontrollably as the verdicts were delivered.

  • "I’m just pleased we got a murder conviction", said Star’s great-grandfather David Fawcett

Star's paternal grandparents Bernard and Sharon Hobson, said: "We wish to say that whilst the conviction brings us no pleasure, as it cannot bring Star back, seeing justice for Star will be our only comfort."

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Swift who led the investigation said it was one of the 'most distressing and heart-breaking cases' his officers had ever worked on.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described it as a "shocking and heartbreaking" case, adding: "We must protect children from these barbaric crimes and ensure lessons are learned."

  • "No child should ever suffer as Star suffered"

Bradford Metropolitan Council said in a statement it deeply regrets that not all the 'warning signs were seen' that could have led to firmer statutory enforcement action.

"As agencies who have a joint responsibility to protect children, this has been at the forefront of our minds. Any death of a child, wherever it happens, is one death too many, but this happened in our district, in our community and has had a devastating impact.

"We are very aware as partners that there is much that we need to learn from this case. We have already put in place actions that will improve our practice so that we learn those lessons. But we need to fully understand why opportunities to better protect Star were missed.

"We must also learn everything we can from the awful murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. A national review has been established to enable this to happen. If we can contribute our learning to this review, we will do.

"We offered support and assistance to Star’s family for what we believed their needs to be, at that given time."