AG urged to review 'unduly lenient' sentence for Star Hobson's mother

Attorney General is urged to review ‘unduly lenient’ jail term for mother of murdered 16-month-old Star Hobson as family slam ‘staggeringly soft’ sentence that could see her walk free in just FOUR years

  • Health minister Gillian Keegan said the murder of Star Hobson was ‘shocking’ 
  • She suggested the Attorney General could send the case to the Court of Appeal 
  • Ms Keegan said it did not seem just that Star’s mother Frankie Smith got 8 years
  • Attorney General’s Office said they received a request for sentences of Smith and Savannah Brockhill to be considered under unduly lenient sentence scheme

The Attorney General has been urged to review the ‘lenient’ sentence of Star Hobson’s mother after the child’s family slammed the ‘staggeringly soft’ term.     

Star’s mother Frankie Smith, 20, was given just eight years in prison – meaning she could be out in four – after a judge reduced her sentence to account for the ‘burden’ of knowing she played a significant role in the death of her 16-month-old daughter.  

Smith’s partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, was jailed for a minimum of 25 years and given a mandatory life sentence for murdering the child, who bled to death after being attacked at home in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in September last year. 

Health minister Gillian Keegan has today suggested Attorney General Suella Braverman could send the case to the Court of Appeal so the sentence of Star’s mother could be reviewed. 

Ms Keegan, whose brief includes care, told LBC that it ‘doesn’t sound like’ justice that Smith was handed such a short jail term, adding: ‘It doesn’t sound enough, as a human being, it doesn’t sound enough.’

Star’s family had last night slammed the ‘staggeringly soft’ sentences handed out and urged the Attorney General to review the case under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme. 

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office has now confirmed they received a request for the sentences to be examined, and law officers have 28 days from the date the terms were given to consider the case and make a decision.

Frank Smith, 68, Star’s great-grandfather, said he hoped her killers would ‘rot in jail’ and asked: ‘Is that all Star’s life is worth? Frankie will be out in four years – how is that justice?’  


The family of murdered toddler Star Hobson blasted Savannah Brockhill (left) and Frankie Smith’s ‘staggeringly soft sentences’ and called for Britain’s chief legal advisor to review their punishment

Star’s mother Frankie Smith, 20, was given just eight years in prison – meaning she could be out in four – after a judge reduced her sentence to account for the ‘burden’ of knowing she played a significant role in the death of her 16-month-old daughter

16-month-old Star Hobson who died from ‘utterly catastrophic’ injuries at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire

TIMELINE OF STAR HOBSON’S SHORT LIFE

Star Hobson was only 16-months-old when she was killed at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire. Here are some of the key events in her short life:

2019

May 21 – Star Hobson is born

November – Savannah Brockhill and Frankie Smith begin a relationship.

2020

January 23 – Smith’s friend Holly Jones makes the first contact with social services over concerns about domestic violence and how much time she is left looking after Star. Police and social workers visit Star but no concerns are raised.

Early February – Star goes to live with her great-grandparents, David Fawcett and Anita Smith at their home in Baildon, Bradford, after Smith says she has split up with Brockhill.

April 26 – Star is removed from Anita Smith’s house by her mother and taken to live with Smith and Brockhill in Keighley.

May 4 – Anita Smith contacts social services after she is told about Brockhill ‘slam-choking’ Star.

June – David Fawcett posts a picture of Star with bruises on Facebook alongside a happier shot and with the caption ‘From this to this in five weeks, what’s going on Frankie?’

June 21 – Star’s father, Jordan Hobson, contacts social services. Police take Star for a hospital examination. Smith says her daughter had hit her face on a coffee table.

June 23 – Another friend of the Smith family contacts social services with concerns.

August 14 – David Fawcett and Anita Smith see Frankie and Star for the last time.

August 28 – David Fawcett is sent a video of Star with bruises and confronts Brockhill.

September 2 – Another of Star’s great-grandfathers, Frank Smith, contacts social services after seeing video of bruises on the youngster’s face. Social workers make an unannounced visit.

September 15 – Social services closes the case after concluding the referral to be malicious.

September 22 – Star is seriously injured at the flat in Wesley Place, Keighley, and dies later in hospital.

2021

December 14 – Following a trial at Bradford Crown Court Brockhill is convicted of Star’s murder while Smith is convicted of causing or allowing the toddler’s death.

He told the Sun that Brockhill, a former bouncer who beat the defenceless toddler, ultimately deserved the death penalty. 

Frank was one of five relatives or close family friends who turned whistleblower and raised concerns over the treatment, and bruises that had appeared, on 16-month-old Star. 

He said: ‘She [Frankie] watched her child die. She lied repeatedly to cover hers and Brockhill’s tracks. 

‘They both deserve to rot in jail. It’s disgusting.’ 

Health minister Ms Keegan said today: ‘It’s a shocking, shocking case – I mean, it’s quite unbelievable. And also the case of poor Arthur (Labinjo-Hughes) as well. I mean, it’s just unbelievable.

‘Obviously the judge and the jury have made their… they recently passed the sentence but, you know, I guess the Attorney General has that power as well. So I don’t know.’

She added: ‘It doesn’t fit within my remit but it fits within hers (the Attorney General’s), so I’m sure that she’ll be having those conversations.’

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said: ‘We have received a request for these sentences to be considered under the unduly lenient sentence (ULS) scheme.

‘The law officers have 28 days from sentencing to consider the case and make a decision.’

The killing of Star and details of how she was subjected to months of assaults and psychological harm have caused a national outcry, especially as the trial came so soon after the case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

The Attorney General’s office has already said it will review the sentence of Arthur’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, 32, who was jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years at Coventry Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of the Solihull six-year-old’s murder.

The sentence of the youngster’s father, Thomas Hughes, 29, who was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter, will also be looked at.

Star’s great-grandfather, David Fawcett, has led the questioning over why social services and police did not act despite five different family members and friends raising concerns with the authorities in the eight months before she died.

Sentencing Brockhill, 28, and Smith, 20, at Bradford Crown Court on Wednesday, the judge, Mrs Justice Lambert, praised Mr Fawcett and other family members for the support they offered Star but which was pushed away.

She said: ‘Those who loved Star are as bewildered as they are angry and sad at all that has been lost.’

She told the pair: ‘(Star) was 16 months 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.’

The judge said the ‘fatal punch or kick’ to Star caused the toddler to lose half the blood in her body and damaged her internal organs.

‘The level of force required to inflict these injuries must have been massive – similar to those forces associated with a road traffic accident,’ she said.

‘Only you both know what triggered that fatal assault. 

Frankie Smith, 20, did nothing to protect her own daughter Star from her girlfriend and on one occasion held her head underwater to stop her crying, the court heard

‘The violent attack which led to Star’s death was not, however, an isolated event.’

The judge said Star was also found to have suffered 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.’

Mrs Justice Lambert pointed to footage shown many times during the trial of Star ‘clearly desperately in need of sleep’ falling off her chair and ‘dangerously hitting her head on the floor’.

She said both defendants filmed the incident and ‘you both found this funny’.

‘The question which those who have watched the evidence unfold will be asking is 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.

‘The answer to that question is clear to me.

‘Star was caught up in the crossfire of your relationship.’

The Bradford Partnership, which includes the agencies that had contact with Star during her short life, said on Tuesday: ‘We need to fully understand why opportunities to better protect Star were missed.’

The safeguarding partnership said a review into the case will be published next month, but it ‘deeply regrets’ that ‘not all the warning signs’ were spotted.

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