Star Hobson's killer stepmother wanted to 'shave all her hair off'

Star Hobson’s killer stepmother wanted to ‘shave all her hair off, like a gypsy baby’ reveals whistleblowing great-grandfather as babysitter says 16-month-old’s mother spent an hour cleaning her up and covering her bruises before social worker’s visit

  • Star’s murderer Savannah Brockhill, 28, wanted to make her into a ‘Gypsy baby’
  • The little girl’s great-grandparents found out about plane to shave her head
  • They alerted social services who deemed everything was fine and Star safe 
  • Another whistleblower to their cruelty said they used make-up to cover bruises
  • Babysitter Hollie Jones said Frankie Smith, 20, got notice of social worker visit 

Star Hobson’s murderer Savannah Brockhill wanted to shave off all of the little girl’s hair to make her into a ‘Gypsy baby’ in her own image, relatives revealed today.

The killer bouncer – who proudly called herself the ‘Number one psycho’ – fatally hurt the toddler by stamping or punching her stomach.

Brockhill had left school aged ten and the seven week murder trial heard she had come from a travelling background.

Relatives and friends contacted social services five times, but they swallowed the killer and Star’s mother’s lies that she was loved and cared for.

The little girl’s great-grandfather David Fawcett said this morning: ‘Savannah was slam-choking – some kind of move they do in kickboxing or karate or something – and she was throwing Star onto the bed, which was thought was a bit strange for an 11-month-old little girl to be doing.

‘Then a day or so later we got word she was going to shave all her hair off, she wanted to be like a gypsy baby, and she was holding her above her cot by one leg.

Star looks terrified as the woman who would later murder her holds her in her arms

Partners in death: Savannah Brockhill, 28 and Frankie Smith, 20, have both been convicted over killing Star Hobson

‘So that’s when Anita said ‘I’ve had enough, I’m going to ring the social services and try and get this sorted out’,’ he told GMB.

But devious Frankie Smith covered up the toddler’s bruises and injuries after social services tipped her off they were coming to visit.

Smith, 20, set about disguising the wounds she and murderer Savannah Brockhill inflicted on the baby girl with make-up. 

Then when the Bradford City Council social worker arrived at her Keighley home, she made babysitter Hollie Jones hold her to try and obscure their view.

Smith had no idea it had in fact been brave Hollie who had tried to save Star by tipping off the authorities in the first place in January 23 last year

She had acted after witnessing the chaotic scenes in the house and said this morning if social workers had turned up announce the baby might still be alive now.

Star’s mother Frankie Smith, 20, and girlfriend Savannah Brockhill, 28, have been convicted

Police have released a harrowing picture of one of the bruises on Star’s face that sparked calls to social services from family

Babysitter Hollie Jones alerted social services but they told Frankie Smith they were coming

A timeline of failures: How social services and police missed abuse of tragic Star

January 23, 2020 –  A referral from Smith’s friend and sometimes babysitter Holly Jones went to social services.

She flagged up potential domestic violence issues and the fact Star was increasingly being left in her care.

Three days later police visited but there were no concerns raised. Social services tried to visit Smith on January 28 but she was not home.

Her family were spoken to and no problems were raised, so the case was closed on February 27.

May 5, 2020 – Star’s great-grandmother Anita Smith contacted social services over concerns over how the baby was being treated.

They visited but there were no bruises to either the baby or her mother.

Social services spoke to Frankie Smith and Brockhill and the latter gave them permission to do police checks on her.

June 21, 2020 –  Jordan Hobson, Star’s father, referred Smith and Brockhill to social services after seeing pictures the couple had shared of his daughter’s bruised face.

Police again visited their home and saw the markings on the baby’s head.

Smith told them Star had hit her head on the handle of a coffee table.

A medical examination found two bruises on her cheek and four on the back of her leg.

Smith and Brockhill’s explanation that they were from her playing with a puppy were believed.

June 23, 2020 – Social services were again contacted by Rachel Whiteley, a close friend of Smith’s mother Yvonne Spendley.

She had been concerned how Smith had treated Star at a barbecue, picking her up roughly.

Ms Whiteley said at the time: ‘I thought it was disgusting, giving her barbecue food, the way she handled her.’

Social services closed the case in July, it is not clear what was done.

September 2, 2020 –  Frank Smith – Star’s paternal great-grandfather – alerted social services to a video of Star with bruises on her face.

When they visited her, her mother was said to have been in Scotland.

The next day they went again unannounced and found her at home with Brockhill.

They noticed Star was so unsteady on her feet she walked into a sofa while they were there.

There were also bruises on her cheek and right shin but were told by Brockhill she had fallen down the stairs.

The murderer told police later what the social worker had said, adding: ‘Social services came to see Star, she checked her body, her bedroom, chatted with us about Star, she said the report was malicious.’

On September 15 social services closed the case, indeed concluding the referral had been ‘malicious’.

A week later Star was murdered.

Brockhill – who called herself ‘the number one psycho’ – will be sentenced this afternoon for murder with Smith for causing or allowing Star’s death. 

Hollie said: ‘The social workers rang an hour beforehand just to tell them they were coming.

‘Frankie started cleaning Star, covering up bruises and things like that’.

‘She made me hold Star so that the social worker couldn’t really see much of what she was like.

‘Later they told me they visited and they have no concern.

‘That she’s safe with her mother, there’s nothing more that they can do and everything looks fine,’ she told the BBC.

‘It’s like ringing up a criminal an hour before and saying ‘I’m coming to get you’. It just doesn’t really make sense.

‘I think more things need to be put in place because parents that are abusing their children know how to cover it up.’ 

The Bradford Partnership, which includes the agencies which had contact with Star during her short life, said on Tuesday: ‘We need to fully understand why opportunities to better protect Star were missed.’

The safeguarding partnership said a review into the case will be published next year, but that it ‘deeply regrets’ that ‘not all the warning signs’ were spotted.

And Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchliffe said Star was ‘let down’.

Keighley and Ilkley Tory MP Robbie Moore said Bradford Council leaders should ‘hang their heads in shame’ and resign.

The Department for Education said Star’s death was ‘deeply disturbing’ and that it would ‘not hesitate’ to remove children’s services control from Bradford Council ‘if necessary’.

Smith cried uncontrollably when the verdicts were delivered as she and Brockhill stood in the glass-fronted dock.

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 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 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’.

The jury was shown a series of clips from a CCTV camera which prosecutors said showed Brockhill deliver a total of 21 blows to Star in a car over a period of nearly three hours, some as the toddler sat in a car seat.

The footage 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.

The footage appeared to show Brockhill punching and slapping Star with what the prosecutor described as ‘considerable force’, and at one point the youngster fell out of the vehicle. Brockhill also grabbed Star by the throat.

The jury also saw another video, described by the prosecutor as ‘disturbing and bizarre’, showing Star falling off a plastic chair and hitting the floor.

Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC told the court the youngster was ‘clearly exhausted but treated completely without love’.

He said ‘there was also a degree of cruelty and psychological harm’ inflicted on the toddler in the weeks and months before she died as well as physical assaults. 

The maximum sentence for causing or allowing the death of a child is 14 years.

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