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14th Dec 2021

Star Hobson: Chilling moment woman calls 999 to blame baby girl’s death on toddler

Steve Hopkins

Savannah Brockhill was found guilty of murdering Star Hobson on Tuesday

Chilling audio has been released showing the moment a woman tried to get away with murder by blaming the killing of her partner’s 16-month-old daughter on a toddler.

The audio was released on Tuesday after Savannah Brockhill was convicted of murdering Star Hobson by punching and stamping on her in Keighley, West Yorkshire, on September 22 last year.

Star’s mother, Frankie Smith, was cleared of her daughter’s murder but found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child.

The couple is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.

The verdicts come less than a fortnight after Emma Tustin was found guilty of murdering her six-year-old stepson Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and jailed for life. The boy was poisoned, tortured, and died of catastrophic head injuries.

The audio of a 999 call made 15 minutes after Star was attacked is eerily similar to police bodycam footage released in the aftermath of Tustin’s sentencing. It showed Tustin trying to get away with murder by shifting blame onto Arthur.

Read more: Chilling video shows moment step mum tried to get away with murdering boy, 6

Brockhill, an amateur boxer and security guard, told emergency services that she was in the kitchen making a coffee when she heard a “bang” coming from the living room, where Star was playing with three other children. Smith, 20, had told police she was in the toilet at the time.

The 28-year-old  then claims she saw a little boy standing over Star, who was on the floor crying and was sick.

“Now she’s just gone a little bit floppy, to be honest with you,” Brockhill is heard saying.

When asked where the bang sound came from, Brockhill says she wasn’t sure if Star had “fallen off the sofa” or if it happened as she was playing.

“I came in and the little lad was saying ‘Star’… So I’ve obviously shouted her mum in, said ‘sit up Star’. I’ve sat her up and I started to rub her back because she was like breathing but struggling. She started to be sick so I laid her on the floor.”

Brockhill claims she carried out CPR on Star before putting her in the recovery position.

Bradford Crown Court court earlier heard how Star had suffered major blood loss after the main vein carrying blood back to her heart from her legs and organs of the abdomen had been torn. She had 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”.

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.”

MacDonald said 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,” he told the court.

MacDonald told the court that Star had been killed by the “intentional infliction of injury and that the person or persons who inflicted these injuries intended, at the very least, to cause really serious harm to a helpless young child and that, in those circumstances, they are guilty of murder”.

The prosecutor said a pathologist had found the blows were delivered to Star with a “severe degree of force that is wholly incompatible with normal handling of a child of 16 months”.

After injuring Star, Brockhill and Smith searched online for “shock in babies” and waited 15 minutes before calling for help.

Medics arrived at the couple’s flat at around 3.49 pm on September 22 and found Star lifeless, pale, and wearing only a disposable nappy.

Star was in cardiac arrest and as they attempted CPR, she vomited “large amounts” of brown material, and a suction device was used to remove it, the court heard.

She was rushed to Airedale hospital – just six minutes away – where clinicians did everything they could to save her but she was pronounced dead that afternoon.

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“The reality is that the injuries suffered by Star were so catastrophic that there never was any real chance of saving her life,” MacDonald told the court.

He added that it was “inconceivable” that any carer would wait 15 minutes to call an ambulance when a child was showing “symptoms of a medical catastrophe”.

MacDonald told the court the couple tried to pin the blame on another child when quizzed by police which was “nothing short of absurd”.

The prosecution told the court how Star had suffered a number of “significant injuries at different times during her short life” and was “repeatedly physically assaulted over the weeks and months before her death”.

Star had been found to have had two fractures to the right shinbone “caused by forceful twisting”, a fractured skull, and an old brain injury.

MacDonald said: “Throughout the period when these injuries were caused, Star was supposedly in the care of these two defendants who were partners.

“Despite the catalogue of injuries of which we have spoken, at no time was Star taken for medical help other, of course, than that 999 call made in the last hour and 15 minutes of Star’s life.”

The jury was shown distressing video footage, taken from Smith’s phone, which shows Star being shouted at and forced to stand facing a wall.

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.

Social Services were kept away from Star, the court heard.

Footage of the emergency call was released as it was revealed that a safeguarding practice review has been launched into Star’s death.