Star Hobson died in September 2020. The court heard that the main vein carrying blood back to the heart from the legs and organs of the abdomen had been torn, causing major blood loss
A mother on trial for murdering her 16-month-old daughter with her girlfriend described her as ‘evil’ in a text after the child put lipstick on her face and filmed the toddler having accidents, with facial injuries and falling asleep in her food, a court heard today.
Toddler Star Hobson died from ‘catastrophic’ injuries to her abdomen caused by heavy punches or kicks – which could only have been inflicted by mum Frankie Smith, 20, or her pub bouncer girlfriend Savannah Brockhill, who deny murder.
A jury was shown a series of harrowing videos filmed by the two defendants on their mobile phones on the weeks and months leading up to the death Star, on September 22, 2020, in Keighley, West Yorkshire.
And Bradford Crown Court was played an audio recording of an argument between the defendants in which Smith tells Brockhill: ‘I’ll murder you. I’ll do time for you, I would kill you.’
The jury heard Google searches had been made, which included: ‘How long can your body last without sleep?’, ‘What takes bruising and swelling down?’, ‘Bending fingers back’, ‘How can you dry drown?’ and ‘How long can you sit in the cold?’
Both defendants videoed an exhausted Star nodding off on a green chair, on a number of occasions she almost topples off onto the floor.
The toddler does eventually tumble to the floor, pulling the plastic chair on top of herself. Neither woman went to comfort Star, instead Brockhill, 28, edited the ‘slow mo’ footage, putting dramatic music behind it and sent it to a friend with the message ‘f**ked it’ followed by three crying with laughter emojis.
Other videos viewed by the jury showed Star with a badly bruised and swollen right cheek, marks to her forehead and ear and also footage of Star crawling up the communal flight of stairs to Smith’s flat in Keighley.
Brockhill videoed the toddler’s painful climb, in which the child can easily be seen to be protecting her broken right shin. Brockhill made no attempt to help or comfort Star, who cries in pain at points, and when the child gets to the flat she is greeted by mum, who rather than give the tearful Star a cuddle, forces her to walk.
Another video shows an exhausted Star eating her food and trying not to fall asleep. Eventually her head falls into the bowl. No adult goes to comfort her, they just keep filming.
Her mother Frankie Smith, 20, and her partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, tried to blame another child for causing the fatal injuries to the tot, a court heard
On another occasion Star got into Smith’s make-up and found her lipstick, which she got on her face.
Smith texted Brockhill:’Look, how evil.’ Brockhill replied: ‘Put her in the corner.’
Brockhill and Smith, both of Keighley, deny murder and also causing or allowing Star’s death. The trial continues.
Earlier this week the court heard that Star also suffered a split to the liver, a tear to the fatty attachments of the bowel and bruising to the lower part of the lungs and the pancreas.
Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC said the injuries had been caused by a severe and forceful blow or blows, ‘either in the form of punching, stamping or kicking to the abdomen’.
The court also heard that Smith and Brockhill waited 15 minutes after the incident where Star was injured before calling 999.
The court heard now Smith was 19 when Star was born in May 2019 and her relationship with the father broke up when Star was about six-months old
Brockhill, 28, and Smith, 20, both deny murder and also causing or allowing Star’s death.
The jury was shown video footage of Star being shouted at in her home which Mr MacDonald said showed ‘there was also a degree of cruelty and psychological harm’ inflicted on the youngster in the weeks and months before she died as well as physical assaults.
In one clip, an upset Star is seen being roughly handled by Frankie Smith and a sustained attempt made to make her stand in the corner.
The court also heard of a ‘slam choke’ that Brockhill used on Star, which involved her being picked up off her feet and held by the neck and thrown onto the bed.
Opening the prosecution case, Mr MacDonald said paramedics were called to a flat and discovered ‘the body of an apparently lifeless, pale, baby wearing only a disposable nappy’.
He said the little girl was taken to Airedale General Hospital but ‘the reality is that the injuries suffered by Star were so catastrophic that there never was any real chance of saving her life’.
The prosecutor noted that internet searches at the flat for ‘shock in babies’ and ‘how to bring a baby out of shock’ showed that there was a gap of 15 minutes between the incident in which Star received her injuries and the 999 call.
Mr MacDonald said that Smith and Brockhill were the only adults in the flat at the time, although two other young children were present.
He said: ‘It is inconceivable that any carer would wait 15 minutes to call for professional help when their 16 month-old child was showing symptoms of a medical catastrophe. Any innocent carer would have been on the phone within seconds, not 15 minutes.’
The prosecutor said Star’s injuries were of an ‘utterly catastrophic nature’ and ‘unsurviveable’.
Mr MacDonald told the jury: ‘It will be the prosecution case that is nothing short of absurd to suggest that these injuries were caused by another young child.
‘As you will hear, the pathologist will say, the degree of force applied was so great to cause the injuries that it is quite impossible for the doctors to envisage that it could have been inflicted by a child.’
He outlined how investigations of Star’s body showed evidence of injuries which meant that ‘in the course of her short life, Star had suffered a number of significant injuries at different times’.
The prosecutor said the injuries that caused her 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’.
Mr MacDonald said there had also been two fractures to Star’s right leg ’caused by forceful twisting’ which had been refractured as they healed.
He also described a fracture to the back of the skull and bruising to Star, ‘much of which is considered to be non-accidental in origin’.
The prosecutor said: ‘It is also the case that social services, who were aware of Star’s case, were kept away from Star, as were many of her family in the last period of her life.’
Mr MacDonald told jurors that they will hear from a number of relatives and friends of Smith who will describe concerns they had over bruises they saw on Star which, in some instances, they filmed.
And he showed video footage of Star in the flat which showed she been shouted at to stand and face a wall as she sobbed.
The prosecutor said: ‘You may wonder what that little girl did to deserve that sort of treatment.’
Following another video clip shown to the jury, the prosecutor said: ‘No hint of love of that child.’
He told the jury: ‘You would not be human if you did not, in those circumstances, feel strong and powerful emotions.’
The court heard now Smith was 19 when Star was born in May 2019 and her relationship with the father broke up when Star was about six-months old.
Smith began a relationship with Brockhill shortly after this, he said. Brockhill was working on door security at pubs frequented by Smith.
Mr MacDonald said one witness recalled an incident when the toddler accidently bit her as she helped her eat her food when she was in a car with the defendants.
The prosecutor said Brockhill asked Smith what she was going to do about it ‘whereupon Frankie Smith bit Star’s finger which caused Star to cry’.