The eight-year jail sentence handed to Frankie Smith for causing or allowing the death of her toddler daughter Star Hobson has been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General
Suella Braverman said the case was “tragic and extremely upsetting” and she believes Smith’s sentence was “unduly lenient”.
But she said she could not recommend any increase to the sentence imposed on Savannah Brockhill, Smith’s former partner who was handed a life term with a minimum of 25 years in prison.
The Attorney General said: “I can only challenge a sentence if it is not just lenient but unduly so, such that the sentencing judge made a gross error or imposed a sentence outside the range of sentences reasonably available in the circumstances of the offence.
“The threshold is a high one, and the test was not met in this case.”
Brockhill, 28, and Smith, 20, were sentenced at Bradford Crown Court last month, a fortnight after Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes were jailed for killing six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in similar circumstances.
Like Smith, their cases were also referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General amid public outcry over the offences and the injuries inflicted on their young and vulnerable victims.
Announcing her decision on Smith’s sentence on Wednesday evening, Ms Braverman said: “This case will have caused upset to anyone who read about it, but my job is to decide if a sentence appears to be too low based solely on the facts of the case.
“I have carefully considered the details of this case, and I concluded that I can refer Frankie Smith’s sentence to the Court of Appeal as I believe it is unduly lenient.
“However, I have concluded that I cannot refer Savannah Brockhill’s sentence.”
She added: “Savannah Brockhill was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years before being considered for parole.
“As the sentencing judge remarked, 25 years is a minimum and she may serve longer. In my opinion, that sentence is not unduly lenient.”
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.
Jurors were told Smith’s family and friends had growing fears about bruising they saw on the little girl in the months before she died.
In each case, Brockhill and Smith managed to convince social workers the marks were accidental or that the complaints were made maliciously by people who did not like their relationship.
Sentencing Brockhill and Smith, judge Mrs Justice Lambert said Star’s “short life was marked by neglect, cruelty and injury”.
She was found to have suffered two brain injuries, numerous ribs fractures, the fracture and refracture of her leg, and a skull fracture when she died.
A date for the Court of Appeal hearing has not yet been confirmed.