March 2022

Sentence for mother of murdered baby increased to 12 years

The mother of murdered toddler Star Hobson has had her prison sentence extended at the Court of Appeal.

Frankie Smith was sentenced for eight years in prison for causing or allowing her daughter’s death, but on Tuesday the sentence was increased to 12 years.

The Attorney General Suella Braverman referred the sentence to the Court of Appeal in January.

She said the case was “tragic and extremely upsetting” and believed Smith’s sentence was “unduly lenient”.

The 20-year-old was found guilty for causing or allowing one-year-old Star’s death in December and was sentenced to eight years in prison the following day.

Her former partner, Savannah Brockhill, 28, was found guilty of murder and jailed for a minimum of 25 years.

The jury heard in December that Star lost half the blood in her body after a fatal punch or kick damaged her internal organs.

She 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.

Mrs Justice Lambert, sentencing, said: “The level of force required to inflict these injuries must have been massive – similar to those forces associated with a road traffic accident.

“Only you both know what triggered that fatal assault. The violent attack which led to Star’s death was not, however, an isolated event.”

Justice Lambert said Star endured two brain injuries, numerous rib fractures, “the fracture and refracture of her leg and a skull fracture”.

Ms Braverman said she could not recommend any increase to the sentence imposed on Brockhill, who was handed a life sentence.

February 2022

Frankie Smith’s pitiful existence hiding from ‘unforgiving’ inmates alone in cell before 200-mile move

Tragic Star Hobson’s cruel mum is being moved to a new prison after inmates told her to “get out of Yorkshire”.

Frankie Smith is caged at HMP New Hall, near Flockton, after she was found guilty of allowing the death of her 16-month-old daughter.

According to prison sources, she could be moved 200 miles away, is unable to work inside because of threats and spends most of her time inside her cell.

It could see her being sent to HMP Bronzefield, an adult and young offender all-female prison on the outskirts of Ashford in Surrey.

Smith is currently kept in her cell most of the time. She hasn’t been cleared to work due to threats from the other women.

Star was killed in September 2020 after months of “neglect, cruelty and injury” at the hands of Smith and partner Savannah Brockhill.

Bradford Crown Court heard the toddler had suffered “catastrophic” injuries at Keighley home.

Brockhill, 28, was jailed for life in December for murdering Star, with a 25-year minimum. Smith, 20, got eight years for allowing her daughter’s death.

Sources said the cost of ­moving Smith to HMP Bronzefield – the UK’s biggest female jail – would be justified to ensure her safety.

They added: “Bronzefield has other high-profile inmates, mostly from the south, so she’s less likely to be a target.”

Bronzefield, near Ashford, Surrey, also houses Shauna Hoare – jailed over the death of Becky Watts, 16, in 2015.

Others there include Safiyya Amira Shaikh, Britain’s first female Islamic State bomb plotter and al-Qaeda fanatic Roshonara Choudhry, who tried to murder MP Stephen Timms in 2010

December 2021

Savannah Brockhill jailed for 25 years

A woman who murdered her partner’s 16-month-old daughter after months of “neglect, cruelty and injury” has been jailed for a minimum of 25 years.

Star Hobson suffered “catastrophic” injuries at the hands of Savannah Brockhill, her mother Frankie Smith’s “violent-tempered” girlfriend.

Judge Mrs Justice Lambert said the toddler was “caught in the crossfire” of the pair’s toxic relationship

Smith was sentenced to eight years for causing or allowing Star’s death.

A seven-week trial heard Star had endured a campaign of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of the couple, who had managed to fend off police and social workers despite five referrals from concerned family members.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice Lambert told the pair they had “both behaved in a cruel and callous way” towards the toddler, who was the victim of “pointless and self-absorbed rows” as they became consumed by their tempestuous relationship.

It was Brockhill’s “fatal punch or kick”, delivered with “the force of a car crash” on 22 September 2020, that damaged Star’s internal organs and caused deadly internal bleeding, the judge said.

But the violent attack was “not an isolated event”, and “numerous other injuries were identified on Star’s body” after her death, including two brain injuries and various fractures to her skull, ribs and shinbone.

In her sentencing remarks, the judge said Brockhill had a violent temper and took her anger out on Star by punching and slapping her, while Smith issued “pointless” punishments for perceived bad behaviour.

Brockhill’s “jealous anger” had caused her to be physically violent towards “impressionable” Smith, who had become obsessed with her girlfriend to the detriment of Star’s wellbeing, the judge said.

Videos filmed by the couple, including one of the “clearly exhausted” toddler falling off a plastic chair onto the floor, highlighted the “callous indifference” with which she was treated.

The judge branded Smith a “neglectful parent” and said she did not believe the younger woman was “so dominated” that she was unable to leave her partner or to seek help.

Smith, she said, had played “a significant role” in her child’s death, and had failed to contact authorities when Brockhill’s abuse had become apparent from bruises and marks on Star’s face and body.

“This is something you have to live with for the rest of your life,” she said.

Addressing both defendants, the judge said anyone who had watched the trial unfold would be left asking “why anyone would, or could, behave in such a way towards a young and vulnerable child who should be cherished and protected rather than abused and neglected.”

Mrs Justice Lambert paid tribute to Star’s former babysitter Hollie Jones, who was the first person to contact social services and had “tried to protect Star”.

Her January 2020 referral would be followed by four others, with the final alert made weeks before Star’s death.

A victim impact statement from Star’s great-grandmother, Anita Smith, was read out in court by prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC.

Mrs Smith, who made the second social services referral in May 2020, said she was heartbroken because she “will never get to see Star grow up”.

“I kiss her photo at night saying ‘goodnight’. Every morning I wake up and say ‘morning beautiful’,” she said.

Star’s relatives have been critical of the social services response to their referrals, and Mrs Smith said she had warned Bradford City Council it faced “another Baby P” if no action was taken.