Star Hobson murder: Mother Frankie Smith and partner Savannah Brockhill to have sentences reviewed

·4-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

The Attorney General is reviewing the sentences of Star Hobson’s mother and her partner after complaints their jail terms were too lenient.

Star was aged 16 months when she died in 2020 after months of “neglect, cruelty and injury”.

On Wednesday her mother, Frankie Smith, 20, was sentenced to eight years in prison for causing or allowing her death.

Her partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, was jailed for a minimum of 25 years for murder.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office confirmed it had received requests to review the sentences and that was now taking place.

If either are found to be lenient they would be sent to the Court of Appeal to be reconsidered.

The spokesperson 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.”

Frankie Smith was jailed for eight years at Bradford Crown Court for causing or allowing the death of her 16-month-old daughter, Star Hobson. (West Yorkshire Police/PA) (PA Media)
Frankie Smith was jailed for eight years at Bradford Crown Court for causing or allowing the death of her 16-month-old daughter, Star Hobson. (West Yorkshire Police/PA) (PA Media)

The killing of Star and details of how she was subjected to months of assaults and psychological harm have caused an outcry, and come soon after the case of murdered Solihull six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes that caused similar outrage.

On Thursday Health minister Gillian Keegan said the murder of the 16-month-old at the hands of bouncer and security guard Brockhill was “shocking” and “quite unbelievable”.

And she suggested Attorney General Suella Braverman could send the case to the Court of Appeal for sentencing to be reviewed.

Ms Keegan, whose brief includes care, told LBC that it “doesn’t sound like” justice that Smith, 20, had been handed a jail term of just eight years.

She added: “It doesn’t sound enough, as a human being, it doesn’t sound enough.”

Ms Keegan said: “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. I mean, 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.”

Savannah Brockhill was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 25 years for the murder of 16-month-old Star Hobson (West Yorkshire Police/PA) (PA Media)
Savannah Brockhill was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 25 years for the murder of 16-month-old Star Hobson (West Yorkshire Police/PA) (PA Media)

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.

Star was taken to hospital from the flat where she lived with Smith in Wesley Place, Keighley, in West Yorkshire on September 22 2020, but her injuries were “utterly catastrophic” and “unsurvivable”, prosecutors told the two-month trial.

Jurors heard that 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, both from Keighley, managed to convince social workers that marks on Star were accidental or that the complaints were made maliciously by people who did not like their relationship.

Prosecutors 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”.

Jurors also heard there were other injuries on her body which meant that “in the course of her short life, Star had suffered a number of significant injuries at different times”.

Attorney General Suella Braverman  (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Attorney General Suella Braverman (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

The jury was shown a series of video clips which prosecutors said showed Star being assaulted, abused or humiliated, often posted on social media.

Smith was cleared of murder but was convicted of causing or allowing the toddler’s death – an offence with a 14-year maximum prison sentence.

But mitigating on Wednesday, Zafar Ali QC, for Smith, said: “She is herself a victim of the murder count, having lost her daughter.

“She was plainly unaware of the seriousness of the assaults being inflicted on her daughter.

Mr Ali asked the judge to take a number of things into account before sentencing Smith, including that she has no previous convictions and is “remorseful for her wilful ill-treatment of Star”.

In the case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, the Attorney General’s office has already said it will review the sentence of his 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.

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