Woman laughs before being jailed for life over 'cruel' murder of one-year-old Star Hobson

15 December 2021, 15:12 | Updated: 15 December 2021, 16:09

Tragic Star was killed by Savannah Brockhill, who has been jailed for life
Tragic Star was killed by Savannah Brockhill, who has been jailed for life. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

By Daisy Stephens

A woman has been jailed for a minimum of 25 years for the cruel murder of her ex-partner's 16-month-old Star Hobson.

Bouncer and security guard Savannah Brockhill, 28, was seen laughing as her sentencing got under way on Wednesday for the toddler's murder, which followed months of harrowing abuse.

Star's mother and Brockhill's former partner, Frankie Smith, 20, was given eight years in prison for causing or allowing her death.

Brockhill and Smith were both convicted on Tuesday after a jury heard Star endured months of physical assaults and psychological harm.

Mrs Justice Lambert, sentencing, said Star lost half the blood in her body after a fatal punch or kick damaged her internal organs.

The judge added: "The level of force required to inflict these injuries must have been massive - similar to those forces associated with a road traffic accident.

Read more: Star, 1, murdered by mum's partner after 'shambolic' social services response

Read more: Star Hobson: The five warning signs social services had to protect tragic one-year-old

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

Star 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.

They described how the injuries that caused Star'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".

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

"She was also treated with, at best, callous indifference by you both and, on many occasions, with frank cruelty," the judge told the pair, referencing footage showing Star "clearly desperately in need of sleep", falling off her chair and "dangerously hitting her head on the floor".

Smith and Brockhill filmed it and "both found this funny", the judge said, adding that it seemed Star was "caught up in the crossfire of your relationship", with Smith, "a rather immature and impressionable girl", becoming "obsessed" with Brockhill - at the expense of cherishing a child.

Smith cried uncontrollably when the guilty verdicts were delivered on Tuesday, as the pair stood in the glass-fronted dock.

The case has raised questions over the response from the social services, after they received five separate reports from worried friends and family but repeatedly concluded there was no cause for concern.

The case echoes that of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother.

Boris Johnson told MPs: "I would just want to say that I think the whole House will once again be filled with incredulity at the cruelty of people who can perpetrate a child killing like this, but also sadness and bewilderment that it could not have been prevented.

"We will appoint... a commissioner to assess the relevant council - Bradford's - capability and capacity to improve on their findings and they will report in January.

"This will also feed into the report that we have commissioned on the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. I say to those who are responsible in the authorities concerned, that we will not hesitate to remove service control if that is what is necessary to drive the improvements that we need to see."

Sentencing Brockhill and Smith, Mrs Justice Lambert said: "She (Star Hobson) was 16-months-old when she was murdered.

"Her short life was marked by neglect, cruelty and injury.

"She was murdered by you, Savannah Brockhill.

"Frankie Smith, it was your role, as her mother, to protect Star from harm.

"You have been convicted by this jury of failing to protect her and, thereby, allowing her death."

This story is being updated.