Star Hobson: Stepmum sentenced to life for murder of 16-month-old girl

Savannah Brockhill has been told she will spend at least the next 25 years in prison for the murder of 16-month-old Star Hobson.

Brockhill, 28, was handed a life sentence this afternoon at Bradford Crown Court for killing baby Star on September 22, 2020, with a minimum term of 25 years.

Mrs Justice Christina Lambert QC sentenced Brockhill and Star’s mother Frankie Smith, 20, today for their roles in the toddler’s death after the jury returned its verdicts yesterday.

Smith, who was cleared of murder and manslaughter but convicted of causing or allowing the death of her daughter, was handed a eight year prison sentence.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice Lambert told Smith: “You have lost your daughter and you played a significant role by allowing her death. You have to live with that with the rest of your life.

“Despite the evidence, you failed to seek help, you failed to disassociate from SB, continuing the relationship for your own ends.

“You allowed her into your flat, gave unsupervised access to Star.

“I do accept you were the victim of physical violence and your immaturity, but I find your offending falls squarely in category A, high culpability.

“You also lied to police, going along with the suggestion to make up a story you were both absent from the room. Once again you protected Savannah Brockhill at the expense of finding out what happened to your daughter.

“Frankie Smith, for allowing the death of your daughter, you get eight years. You must serve two-thirds before being considered for release. Your 443 days on remand will be factored in.”

Turning to Brockhill, she said: “Savannah Brockhill, stand up.

“For murdering Star you get life imprisonment.

“The minimum term you will serve is 25 years, less the 443 days you have spent on remand after your arrest.”

Earlier, Mrs Justice Lambert told Brockhill: “You inflicted Star’s fatal injuries, kicking or punching her causing a laceration to her inferior vena cava. Star bled to death.

“The post-mortem found more than 50% of her blood in her abdomen.

“The fatal punch or kick damaged the liver, pancreas and kidneys. I accept the level of force needed was massive, similar to a car crash.

“Only you both know what triggered that attack, but it was not an isolated attack. Numerous other injuries were found in her body, brain injuries, a skull fracture, leg fracture, rib fractures.

“The physical injuries are only part of the tragic story of her life. She was treated with callous indifference by you both, and at times frank cruelty.

“There is the footage from June when, desperately in need of sleep, Star was filmed falling from a chair dangerously hitting her head on the floor. You both filmed it, you both found it funny.”

Star suffered catastrophic abdominal injuries in the attack in September 2020 carried out by Brockhill in the living room at Smith’s flat while Smith was in the next room on the toilet.

A vicious blow or blows, either punches, kicks or stamps, were inflicted on Star with a severe degree of force.

The injuries the defenceless toddler suffered were likened to those usually seen in a car crash by a forensic pathologist.

Her inferior vena cava – the main vein from the lower part of the body to the heart – was lacerated, with half of her total blood supply leaking out into her abdominal cavity.

Forensic pathologist Dr Christopher Johnson said Star would have been dead “within minutes” and there was no way she could have survived her injuries.

The fatal attack came after months of assaults by Brockhill on Star of increasing severity, starting in July when Star was seen with a huge bruise on her cheek “caused by hard slaps”, Dr Johnson said, while on a weekend stay with Brockhill while she worked at a bleak recycling plant near Doncaster as security.

Then, in late August, more bruising from slaps were seen on Stars face and head.

The worst attack before Star’s death occurred just nine days earlier on September 13 when, again alone at the recycling plant, Star was the victim of a sustained assault, taking punches and slaps from Brockhill while trapped in her car.

On September 22 Smith invited Brockhill – who had been violent to Smith since the early days of their relationship – into her flat.

While Smith was in the bathroom, Brockhill resumed her violence towards Star, striking a fatal blow to the 16-month-old.

In the 15 minutes they followed Brockhill tried to bring Star round, insisting she was fine, until caving and ringing 999 for help.

While on the call she span a cover story to explain away the injuries as an accident – later strong-arming Smith into lying about what happened – a lie Smith maintained until midway through the trial.

However a post-mortem revealed the injuries were no accident, and that an adult had caused them, and after eight weeks of evidence, the jury decided it was Savannah Brockhill who deliberately caused those injuries with the intent to cause death or really serious harm.

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