Star Hobson trial: Mother and partner found guilty over toddler's death
"Instead of love and protection, she experienced a world of humiliation, cruelty and pain."
**Content warning: This article contains details of a child's death and child abuse.
A mother and her partner have been found guilty over the death a 16-month-old girl in the UK.
Frankie Smith, 20, and her partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, were convicted over the death of Star Hobson, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest last year.
Brockhill was found guilty of murdering the toddler, while Smith was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child.
Jurors had heard how Star was repeatedly assaulted in the women's care, suffering "utterly catastrophic injuries" prior to her death in hospital on 22 September 2020.
Prosecutors said she was "repeatedly physically assaulted over the weeks and months before her death", mostly at the couple's flat in Keighley, West Yorkshire.
The couple had been in what the court heard was a "toxic" relationship in the eleven months prior to the day paramedics were called to find little Star "apparently lifeless" and pale at their home.
Smith and Brockhill were the only adults in the flat when the toddler was either "punched, kicked or stamped on" that day, with prosecutors saying it would be "absurd" to suggest such injuries could have been caused by another child.
Smith said she had been in the bathroom when she “heard a bang from the living room” and rushed to find Brockhill sat on the sofa holding Star on her lap, while the child "looked like she couldn’t breathe properly".
She claimed Brockhill later told her to lie to medics and authorities and say that they both reached the room Star was in at the same time.
Testimony from family members also suggested that Brockhill was a controlling and abusive partner to Smith, with witnesses describing an incident in which the former punched the latter in the face at a pub.
Smith's counsel also suggested she was someone of very low intelligence who was highly impressionable, with tests showing she had an IQ of 70 (within the bottom two percent of the population) and is "abnormally compliant" and "prone to going along with an authority figure telling her what to do".
Social services had been contacted by family members concerned for Star's welfare several times since January 2020, but visits found nothing of concern. After Star's great-grandmother contacted social services in May 2020, the case was dismissed as "malicious" and closed days before Star's death, per reports.
Anita Banerjee, from Child Protective Services, told the media that Smith and Brockhill inflicted "catastrophic injuries" on a "helpless young child".
"Throughout her short life Star was subjected to endless physical assaults and psychological harm," she said.
"Instead of love and protection, she experienced a world of humiliation, cruelty and pain at the hands of those who should have protected her most.
"It is impossible to imagine how any parent or carer could inflict this level of pain and suffering on an entirely defenceless little girl."
The pair are to be sentenced on Wednesday.