Great-grandmother says murdered toddler was "choke-slammed" by mum & partner 1 year ago

Great-grandmother says murdered toddler was "choke-slammed" by mum & partner

Content warning: This article contains harrowing details of alleged child abuse.

The great-grandmother of a 16-month-old who died after suffering "utterly catastrophic injuries" has claimed the child's mother and partner would choke-slam her.

Little Star Hobson died in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest on 22 September 2020.

Mum Frankie Smith, 20, and her partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, are currently on trial charged with murder and causing or allowing the death of the infant, all of which they deny.

Smith's mother and grandmother have both testified in court to being concerned about the toddler to varying degrees.

Smith's grandmother, Anita Smith, alleged the couple would choke-slam her great-grandchild by lifting her up by the neck or throat and then thrusting her onto the bed.

When she chastised them, she claimed, Smith told her they were just playing and it wasn't hurting her.

The court heard how the great-grandmother also disapproved of the accused women's relationship, due to it being same-sex and because Brockhill comes from the Traveller community.

She said her granddaughter changed in her parenting approach after meeting Brockhill, claiming she was "brilliant in the first few months" but later shifted her focus from Star to her new partner. She alleged that Smith became all about Brockhill and being on her phone.


Smith (Left) and Brockhill

Concerned for the child's welfare, the great-grandmother contacted social services in May 2020. The case was dismissed as "malicious" and closed days before Star's death, per reports.

Smith's mother, Yvonne Spendley, said she was concerned by how the pair disciplined Star and said that they enforced a strict routine.

She claimed the child would be made to face the wall or "put in her cot for being naughty", and that if Star fought with children from Brockhill's family over toys, "it was always Star who got told off".

Brockhill, she said, was the main enforcer of the routine and punishment.

Spendley said she never saw Brockhill be violent or aggressive with Star, and that she bought her clothes and played with her.

Yet she claimed to have witnessed Brockhill punch Smith in the face at a pub, and said Smith had admitted to her that she was scared of her girlfriend. She said she noticed her daughter had bruises on two occasions, but Smith told her they were caused by “play fighting” with Brockhill.

Spendley claims she also expressed concerns over bruises to her toddler granddaughter's face, but Smith said Star had “fallen down the stairs and hit her head on the bath.”

Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald last week said that Star "suffered a number of significant injuries at different times," such as fractures to the back of her head and to her right shin.

"Star had been repeatedly physically assaulted over the weeks and months before her death," he said.

If you have been affected by any of the details of this article, you can contact Women's Aid's 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900 or Childline on 1800 66 66 66.