Star Hobson: Attorney General refers mother’s ‘unduly lenient’ jail sentence to Court of Appeal

A mother who allowed her girlfriend to abuse and murder her 16-month-old daughter could have could have her prison sentence extended after it was referred to the Court of Appeal.

Frankie Smith was jailed for eight years after being convicted of causing or allowing the death of Star Hobson at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in September 2020.

Her partner, Savannah Brockhill, an amateur boxer and part-time bouncer, was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 25 years over Star’s murder.

Following widespread public anger over the length of the sentences, Suella Braverman QC, the Attorney General, confirmed that she had referred Smith’s sentence to the Court of Appeal. 

However, she said that due to a technicality she was not able to ask for a review of Brockhill’s sentence because she had been jailed for life.

Frankie Smith was jailed for eight years

Credit: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire

Ms Braverman said: "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. 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."

The Attorney General’s intervention comes after a government minister expressed deep concern over the length of Smith’s sentence.

Gillian Keegan, a health and social care minister, said the punishment did not sound like justice, adding: "It doesn’t sound enough. As a human being, it doesn’t sound enough."

Bradford Crown Court heard how Star was subjected to months of abuse at the hands of Brockhill and Smith before she was eventually killed.

A review into the case is under way after it emerged that social services were repeatedly warned about Star’s treatment, but failed to act.

After she died, a post-mortem revealed that a major vein in her abdomen had been lacerated, there was a split to the liver, damage to fatty areas of the bowel and bruising to the lungs and pancreas.

Medics concluded that such catastrophic internal injuries could have only been caused by severe blows either in the form of punching, stamping or kicking to the stomach.

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