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Star Hobson’s killer got £10k of taxpayer cash for trial before blowing £9k on watch behind bars

Little Star Hobson’s evil killer was handed more than £10,000 in public money while on trial for her murder, it has emerged.

Savannah Brockhill, 28, was jailed for life last month after being convicted of murdering the 16-month-old toddler at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire following months of abuse.

It has now emerged that the bouncer and security guard was given more than £10,290.24 in legal aid, which is awarded to people who cannot afford representation in criminal trials, The Sun reports.

Just four weeks inside jail as a convicted murderer, Brockhill – who was dating Star’s mother Frankie Smith – then splurged £9,000 on diamond-studded Rolex watches and boasted about her cushy cell.

Brockhill was branded ‘pure evil’ and ‘ascended from the bowels of hell’ by the child’s great-grandfather. 

Smith, 20, was also awarded £10,482.01 for the cost of a barrister, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed. She was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child and jailed for eight years.

Social services missed five opportunities to stop Star’s killers in the months before her death on September 22, 2020, a court heard.

Prosecutors described the injuries she suffered as ‘utterly catastrophic’ and ‘unsurvivable’. 

Savannah Brockhill, pictured with Star Hobson, was jailed for life last month after being convicted of murdering the 16-month-old toddler at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire following months of abuse during the Covid lockdown 

Social services missed five opportunities to stop Star’s killers in the months before her death on September 22, 2020

Social services missed five opportunities to stop Star’s killers in the months before her death on September 22, 2020 

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 and made a series of complaints to social services

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 and made a series of complaints to social services 

Star's mother Smith, 20, was cleared of murder, but found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child at Bradford Crown Court after three days of deliberation

Brockhill was convicted by a jury unanimously of the murder of Star, who was abused for months before her death

Star’s mother Smith (left) was cleared of murder, but found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child. Brockhill (right) was convicted by a jury unanimously of murder

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.

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.

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 and made a series of complaints to social services.

In each case, Brockhill and Smith 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’.

Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC said there had been two fractures to Star’s right leg ‘caused by forceful twisting’.

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’.

Boris Johnson vowed to protect more children from ‘barbaric crimes’ and ‘ensure lessons are learned’, calling the case ‘shocking and heartbreaking’.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘We will never hesitate to take robust steps to prevent tragic cases like this happening’.

However, a report into the contact agencies had with Star before she was murdered has been delayed.

A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review was due to be published before the end of this month but the Bradford Partnership said further work was needed. The Government then dramatically stripped the council of its right to run children’s social services

The verdicts fuelled mounting calls for sweeping reform, amid widespread outcry over the case of murdered six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by his cruel stepmother.

Former Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield, the chairwoman of the Commission on Young Lives, warned that the Covid lockdown ‘has brought its own opportunities for those who harm, groom and abuse children’.

‘It is time we made improving children’s social care and protection as big a priority as reforming adult social care,’ she told MailOnline.

‘I hope the Government will act swiftly on the proposals that come out of the forthcoming independent review into children’s social care.

‘The horrific murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson are a stark and tragic reminder that our children’s social services system is facing a perfect storm after years of under investment and the diminishing of early intervention and family support.’

The current Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, added: ‘It is clear that there are serious lessons that need to be learnt. Applying these lessons across the country is the biggest challenge facing us. It is incumbent on all of us working with children to step up to that challenge. 

‘The beautiful, smiling picture of Star Hobson reminds us how precious the life of each child is. What she endured is unspeakable but it must not be unthinkable.

‘We need to ask the hard questions about how this happened, and the even harder questions about how this is the second case in recent weeks.’

The NSPCC said ‘we must do all we can to prevent cruelty and abuse to children’.

Asked about the response of social services outside court last month, Star’s great-grandfather David Fawcett said: ‘It’s disgusting because there were five referrals. Not one of them did anything. It’s just beyond belief, really.’

Asked whether social services had missed the ‘blindingly obvious’, Mr Fawcett said: ‘Yes.’

He added: ‘I’m just pleased we got a murder conviction for Savannah Brockhill. To me she was just pure evil. I just can’t believe she could do something like that to a baby girl. 

No appeal is being made against the sentence of Frankie Smith’s girlfriend Savannah Brockhill, who will spend at least 25 years behind bars for murder

No appeal is being made against the sentence of Frankie Smith’s girlfriend Savannah Brockhill, who will spend at least 25 years behind bars for murder  

Star’s great-grandfather branded Brockhill ‘pure evil’ and ‘ascended from the bowels of hell

Star’s great-grandfather branded Brockhill ‘pure evil’ and ‘ascended from the bowels of hell 

‘We were just a quiet, lovely family and she ascended from the bowels of hell and just completely devastated and wrecked our family.’ 

Earlier this month, the Attorney General asked the Court of Appeal to increase Smith’s ‘unduly lenient’ eight-year jail sentence.

Suella Braverman said the shocking case was ‘tragic and extremely upsetting’ and announced she has referred it for appeal judges to reconsider the sentence given to the 20-year-old.

In a statement, Miss Braverman 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.’ 

She added: ‘This is a tragic and extremely upsetting case and my thoughts are with all those who loved Star Hobson.

‘This vulnerable and innocent child was subjected to continued physical abuse, and her mother, Frankie Smith, allowed it to happen.

‘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.’


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