Chilling video shows tragic Star Hobson not smiling or kissing as she is being held by the stepmother who murdered her one month later.
In one clip posted to Facebook, Savannah Brockhill – the girlfriend of the 16-month-old’s mother Frankie Smith – holds the little girl as she sings to her, before telling her: ‘But you’re a serious girl, deadly’.
A second video posted to social media shows Smith asking Star: ‘Do you love me?’, while the child says nothing in reply for several seconds before answering: ‘Yes.’ A caption running along the bottom of the clip read: ‘She had to think about it, but she does’.
A jury convicted Brockhill, 28, of murdering Star after the child suffered months of abuse in her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire during the Covid lockdown last year.
Star’s great-grandfather branded Brockhill ‘pure evil’ and ‘ascended from the bowels of hell’, while Smith, 20, cried as she was convicted of causing or allowing the toddler’s death at Bradford Crown Court today.
Social services missed five opportunities to stop Star’s killers, including her great-grandfather’s partner, in the months before her death on September 22, 2020.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the case ‘shocking and heartbreaking’, adding on Twitter: ‘We must protect children from these barbaric crimes and ensure lessons are learned.’ And Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi vowed: ‘We will never hesitate to take robust steps to prevent tragic cases like this happening’.
Great-grandparents Neil Fawcett and Anita Smith say they had their concerns dismissed by the Bradford City Council authorities despite warning them Star could be the ‘next Baby P’.
Mr Fawcett posted a harrowing two pictures of the toddler, one of her looking happy, followed by one he had been sent of the girl bruised in a message to her mother.
He demanded: ‘From this to this in five weeks, what’s going on Frankie?’
Her reaction was to block him online and restrict access to her. Social services failed to do anything to stop the couple keeping her.
Mr Fawcett said they warned the the authorities: ‘We don’t want another Baby P on our hands here, do we?’.
But they say they were accused of being ‘troublemakers who made the complaint because we didn’t like gipsies or same sex relationships’.
Mr Fawcett – who is Mrs Smith senior’s new husband – revealed ‘The lady on the phone from social services said, ‘how do you mean?’, and we were shocked at her reaction.
‘Well, Baby P died through abuse, and we’re making a complaint. My first reaction would have been, ‘yeah, right, we’re on the ball, we’ll sort this one out, we don’t want another Baby P’. Especially with them being the social services. It just came across as being a bit shambolic, really, Absolutely shambolic.’
The verdicts come 11 days after the stepmother of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Emma Tustin, was jailed for his murder in a case that caused widespread shock and revulsion.
The abuse included the toddler being ‘choke-slammed’ being forced to stand facing a wall and being repeatedly punched.
Smith – who has a very low IQ of 70 – was said to have been domineered by her older partner and so enthralled by her she lost interest in her own daughter.
Eric Wright, a consultant clinical psychologist, told her trial it meant she was was in the lowest two per cent of people for general intelligence – and in the top three for compliance and suggestibility.
Brockhill was aggressively possessive of her and threatened on Snapchat to ‘put anyone in a chair’ who messaged her.
Jurors were shown footage which prosecutors said showed Brockhill delivering 21 blows to Star in a car over three hours, some as the toddler sat in a car seat.
The video came from a camera at a recycling plant in Doncaster where Brockhill was working as a security guard, and was filmed about eight days before Star’s death.
It appeared to show her punching Star with what the prosecutor described as ‘considerable force’.
At one point the youngster fell out of the vehicle. Brockhill also grabbed Star by the throat. They also ‘choke slammed’ the little girl in a twisted discipline metered out.
Another film which was shown to the jury, described by the prosecutor as ‘disturbing and bizarre’, showed Star falling off a plastic chair and hitting the floor.
The mobile phone footage had been slowed down with music added, plus a caption which said ‘in this moment she realises she has messed up’.
Another clip, filmed on both defendants’ phones, showed Star being so exhausted she fell forward and went to sleep in a bowl of food.
Star was taken to hospital on September 22, 2020, but the injuries she had suffered were ‘unsurvivable’, Alistair MacDonald QC told Bradford Crown Court.
The jury heard the injuries which caused the toddler’s death involved extensive damage to her abdominal cavity.
These were ’caused by a severe and forceful blow or blows, either in the form of punching, stamping or kicking to the abdomen’.
Brockhill – who has a traveller background and left school aged ten – lied the injuries were caused by a two-year-old child, which the prosecution branded ‘absurd’ and added it was ‘quite impossible for the doctors to envisage it could have been inflicted by a child’.
Social services were warned five times Smith and Brockhill were not looking after Star properly and could be abusing her – but it was written off as malicious rumours.
West Yorkshire Police today also released a picture of the young girl with heavy bruising on her face, weeks before she was murdered.
The appalling injury begs questions as to how anyone could have believed it ever could have been caused by an innocent accident.
Prosecuting, Mr MacDonald said Smith and Brockhill were the only adults in the flat at the time.
Star 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, the court was told.
He said: ‘The effect of such injuries was immediate and heavy bleeding into the abdominal cavity, which caused a catastrophic drop in blood pressure and unconsciousness and death within seconds to minutes.
‘The assault or assaults that killed Star clearly involved the use of severe force and were obviously intentional. This little girl suffered no accidental death.’The prosecutor said investigations found evidence on the girl’s body which meant ‘in the course of her short life Star had suffered a number of significant injuries’.
Mr MacDonald said there had also been two fractures to the toddler’s right leg ’caused by forceful twisting’, which had been refractured as they healed.
He described a fracture to the back of Star’s skull, and bruising, ‘much of which is considered to be non-accidental in origin’.