Eight-year sentence for murdered toddler’s mother ‘doesn’t sound enough’ says care minister
The Attorney General could order a review of the sentence handed to the mother of Star Hobson, a health minister suggested, as she said the eight-year term for allowing the toddler’s death “doesn’t sound enough”.
Gillian Keegan (pictured) said the murder of the 16-month-old at the hands of bouncer and security guard Savannah Brockhill – who was her mother Frankie Smith’s partner – was “shocking” and “quite unbelievable”.
And she suggested Attorney General Suella Braverman could send the case to the Court of Appeal for the sentence to be reviewed.
Ms Keegan, whose brief includes care, told LBC that it “doesn’t sound like” justice that Smith, 20, had been handed a jail term of just eight years.
She added: “It doesn’t sound enough, as a human being, it doesn’t sound enough.”
Ms Keegan said: “It’s a shocking, shocking case – I mean, it’s quite unbelievable. And also the case of poor Arthur (Labinjo-Hughes) as well. I mean, it’s just unbelievable. I mean, obviously the judge and the jury have made their… they recently passed the sentence but, you know, I guess the Attorney General has that power as well. So I don’t know…”
She added: “It doesn’t fit within my remit but it fits within hers (the Attorney General’s), so I’m sure that she’ll be having those conversations.”
The killing of Star and details of how she was subjected to months of assaults and psychological harm have caused a national outcry, especially as the trial came so soon after the case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
The Attorney General’s office has already said it will review the sentence of Arthur’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, 32, who was jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years at Coventry Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of the Solihull six-year-old’s murder.
The sentence of the youngster’s father, Thomas Hughes, 29, who was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter, will also be looked at.
Star’s great-grandfather, David Fawcett, has led the questioning over why social services and police did not act despite five different family members and friends raising concerns with the authorities in the eight months before she died.
Sentencing Brockhill, 28, and Smith, 20, at Bradford Crown Court on Wednesday, the judge, Mrs Justice Lambert, praised Mr Fawcett and other family members for the support they offered Star but which was pushed away.
She said: “Those who loved Star are as bewildered as they are angry and sad at all that has been lost.”
She told the pair: “(Star) was 16 months when she was murdered.
“Her short life was marked by neglect, cruelty and injury.
“She was murdered by you, Savannah Brockhill. Frankie Smith, it was your role as her mother to protect Star from harm.”
The judge said the “fatal punch or kick” to Star caused the toddler to lose half the blood in her body and damaged her internal organs.
“The level of force required to inflict these injuries must have been massive – similar to those forces associated with a road traffic accident,” she said.
“Only you both know what triggered that fatal assault.
“The violent attack which led to Star’s death was not, however, an isolated event.”
The judge said Star was also found to have suffered two brain injuries, numerous rib fractures, the fracture and refracture of her leg, and a skull fracture.
“She was also treated with, at best, callous indifference by you both and, on many occasions, with frank cruelty.”
Mrs Justice Lambert pointed to footage shown many times during the trial of Star “clearly desperately in need of sleep” falling off her chair and “dangerously hitting her head on the floor”.
She said both defendants filmed the incident and “you both found this funny”.
“The question which those who have watched the evidence unfold will be asking is why anyone would or could behave in such a way towards a young and vulnerable child who should be cherished and protected rather than abused and neglected.
“The answer to that question is clear to me.
“Star was caught up in the crossfire of your relationship.”
The Bradford Partnership, which includes the agencies that had contact with Star during her short life, said on Tuesday: “We need to fully understand why opportunities to better protect Star were missed.”
The safeguarding partnership said a review into the case will be published next month, but it “deeply regrets” that “not all the warning signs” were spotted.
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Parliament TV.