Star Hobson: Great-grandparents say 'blood ran cold' when they saw 16-month-old's killer Savannah Brockhill

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George McMillan

By George McMillan

Published: 14/12/2021

- 12:05

Updated: 14/12/2021

- 12:13

Savannah Brockhill found guilty of murdering 16-month-old Star Hobson, who endured months of assaults and psychological harm.

Star Hobson’s great-grandmother was so concerned about the toddler’s welfare that she would tell people: “Little Star’s going to finish up a star in the sky.”

Anita Smith’s partner, David Fawcett, said Star’s mother – their granddaughter, Frankie Smith – changed after meeting Savannah Brockhill and described how they were frozen out for the final months of Star’s life, between April and September 2020.

Mr Fawcett, 61, told the PA news agency: “I think if Frankie had never met Savannah we wouldn’t be in this position today.”

He said they dreaded Brockhill’s arrival, comparing her car to Christine, the possessed vehicle from the 1983 Stephen King novel, which was made into a film.

Mr Fawcett said: “As soon as I saw Savannah’s car my blood used to run cold.

“I just had a horrible, uneasy feeling about the situation.

“We even called the car Christine, after a horror film in the early 1980s.”

Mr Fawcett said: “I used to say to Anita ‘Christine’s outside Frankie’s house again’ and Anita used to say ‘you do realise little Star’s going to finish up a star in the sky, she’s got the right name’.

“She always said that, and people used to tell her ‘Anita, please don’t say that’. And that was said from May up to September. Just horrendous.”

He went on: “We just felt we lost Frankie because she’d changed.

“She was talking differently. She was treating Star differently.

“She was going into Savannah’s ways of bringing Star up.”

Mr Fawcett said Smith had a good upbringing in the Baildon area of Bradford.

Bradford Crown Court heard that she was 19 when Star was born on May 21 2019 and struggled as a new mother – going to live with her own mother, Yvonne Spendley, for a time after the birth.

Smith started seeing Brockhill when Star was about six months old, after she split up with Star’s father, Jordan Hobson.

They met when Brockhill was working as door security at pubs in Bradford where Smith went drinking.

Brockhill told the trial jury she identified as bisexual in her teens and came out at 19.

She left school at the age of 10 and worked in end-of-life care before getting a job in security.

Brockhill had also been a keen amateur boxer.

Jurors heard that the pair had a “toxic” relationship characterised by arguments, break-ups and reports of violence.

Smith’s family and friends have emphatically denied the pair’s claims that they took against them because they were a same-sex couple or due to Brockhill’s traveller background.

At the beginning of February 2020, Star went to live with Ms Smith and Mr Fawcett after one tearful break-up.

Star stayed for 11 weeks, until the end of April, when her mother took her back.

The couple said they only saw their great-granddaughter three more times after that.

Mr Fawcett said: “Baby Star, she was amazing.

“If I could bottle that 11 weeks we had with Star and just open it up every so often and just relive those 11 weeks, that is what I’d want to do because she was fantastic.”

He added: “February to April she was absolutely brilliant. She was just the most adorable baby, you couldn’t ask for more.”

Mr Fawcett said he became increasingly concerned about bruises and marks on both Smith and her daughter.

In June 2020, he posted a picture on Facebook featuring bruises on Star alongside a happier shot and with the caption “From this to this in five weeks, what’s going on Frankie?”

His granddaughter replied: “My beautiful child, that’s what’s going on, grow up.”

Facebook: Frankie Smith

Mr Fawcett said Smith accused him of doctoring the picture and blocked his phone.

He said he last saw Star and Smith on August 14.

“I said ‘You need to get away from her, Frankie, she’s going to ruin your life'” he said.

“They were the last words I said to Frankie before all this happened.”

He went on: “Anita said ‘Look at her, she’s terrified’.

“She picked (Star) up and she ran up the road to get in a taxi and take Star back to Savannah’s.

“That was August 14 and we never saw Star again. She passed away on September 22.”

Mr Fawcett said his big, extended family had always been a happy one, with them all enjoying shopping excursions, cycling trips and even strawberry picking in the summer.

“As a family, we were like The Larkins,” he said.

“We were such a tight family. If somebody were to tell you that this was going to happen to us, people would say ‘No way’.”

He said: “Anita can’t bear to look at a picture of Star. She’s so distraught with what’s happened.”

Mr Fawcett said: “I know we’ve lost Star but we’ve also lost Frankie as well. Her life’s ruined now anyway.”

He said Smith told him: “I’ve no life anyway, even when I get out my Star’s gone now. I’ve nothing to live for. Star was my life.”

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