Star Hobson trial: Jury out in trial of mother and partner accused of murder of 16-month-old girl

A jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of two women accused of murdering a 16-month-old girl who died from “utterly catastrophic” injuries after what prosecutors say were weeks of physical assaults and psychological harm.

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

Frankie Smith, 20, and her partner, Savannah Brockhill, 28, are accused of murdering Smith’s daughter, Star Hobson, at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Star was taken to hospital on September 22 2020 but the injuries she had suffered were “utterly catastrophic” and “unsurvivable”, Alistair MacDonald QC told Bradford Crown Court when he opened the prosecution case in October.

The jury has heard that the injuries which caused the toddler’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”.

Mr MacDonald said Smith and Brockhill were the only adults in the flat at the time.

The prosecutor said investigations had found evidence on the little girl’s body which meant that “in the course of her short life, Star had suffered a number of significant injuries at different times”.

Jurors were shown a series of clips from a CCTV camera which prosecutors said showed Brockhill delivering a total of 21 blows to Star in a car over a period of nearly three hours, some as the toddler sat in a car seat.

The footage came from a camera at a recycling plant in Doncaster where Brockhill was working as a security guard, and was filmed about eight days before Star’s death.

Another film which was shown to the jury, described by the prosecutor as “disturbing and bizarre”, showed Star falling off a plastic chair and hitting the floor.

The mobile phone footage had been slowed down with music added, plus a caption which said “in this moment she realises she has messed up”.

Another clip, filmed on both defendants’ phones, showed Star being so exhausted that she fell forward and went to sleep in a bowl of food.

Mr MacDonald told the jury the toddler was “clearly exhausted but treated completely without love”.

He said “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.

A number of relatives and friends of Smith told the jury of concerns they had over bruises they saw on Star which, in some instances, they filmed.

Jurors were told that a number of referrals were by them made to social services from January 2020.

Brockhill, of Hawthorn Close, Keighley, and Smith, of Wesley Place, Halifax Road, Keighley, both deny murder and also causing or allowing Star’s death.

Summing up the case on Thursday, Mrs Justice Lambert told the jury that the prosecution case is that it was Brockhill who inflicted the fatal injuries on the toddler.

The judge said both women deny inflicting the injuries and each says it must have been the other.

Smith told the jury she was not in the room when Star suffered the fatal injuries but did not suspect Brockhill until she reassessed the situation in prison.

Brockhill described how she ran into the room after hearing a thud and found Star on the floor groaning. She said she administered CPR to the youngster and called 999.