The beleaguered grandfather of doomed toddler Star Hobson committed suicide on his daughter’s birthday after sending her a heartbreaking note in prison promising to look after her child.
Andrew Smith, 50, died of an overdose in June as he battled with the realisation that his daughter, Frankie Smith, of Keighley, West Yorkshire, had caused the death of little Star Hobson.
The tragic tot was murdered by her mother Frankie Smith’s girlfriend Savannah Brockhill after suffering months of abuse in her West Yorkshire home during the Covid lockdown last June.
Andrew’s father, Frank, 68, was one of five relatives or close family friends who turned whistleblower and raised concerns over the treatment, and bruises that had appeared, on 16-month-old Star.
It was revealed that before his death, Andrew had sent a personal letter to Frankie while she was remanded in custody telling her he would look after her baby.
Frank told the Sun: ‘He [Andrew] had a handprint on his window from the baby and never washed it off. He couldn’t handle it and so he did it on Frankie’s birthday.
‘He sent her a card in prison and wrote, ‘You look after yourself and I’ll look after the baby’. It’s been devastating.’
Andrew Smith took his own life in June after sending his daughter Frankie a letter in jail saying he would look after her murdered daughter Star
Frankie Smith, 20, (right) was sent a letter by her father, Andrew Smith, 50, who promised to look after Star while she was in prison
Social services missed five opportunities to stop Star’s killers, including her great-grandfather’s partner, in the months before her death on September 22, 2020.
Frank continued: ‘When they found him, Star’s coat was at the side of him. My son did what he did and had 50 years of life, that baby had only a few months.’
Star’s great-grandfather branded Brockhill, 28, ‘pure evil’ and ‘ascended from the bowels of hell’, while Smith, 20, cried as she was convicted of causing or allowing the toddler’s death at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
Smith cried uncontrollably as the verdicts were delivered as the pair stood in the glass-fronted dock.
Star was taken to hospital from the flat where she lived with Smith in Wesley Place, Keighley, but her injuries were ‘utterly catastrophic’ and ‘unsurvivable’, prosecutors told the two-month trial.
Police have released a harrowing picture of one of the bruises on Star’s face that sparked calls to social services from family
Partners in death: Savannah Brockhill, 28 and Frankie Smith, 20, have both been convicted over killing Star Hobson
TIMELINE OF STAR HOBSON’S SHORT LIFE
Star Hobson was only 16-months-old when she was killed at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire. Here are some of the key events in her short life:
May 21 – Star Hobson is born
November – Savannah Brockhill and Frankie Smith begin a relationship.
January 23 – Smith’s friend Holly Jones makes the first contact with social services over concerns about domestic violence and how much time she is left looking after Star. Police and social workers visit Star but no concerns are raised.
Early February – Star goes to live with her great-grandparents, David Fawcett and Anita Smith at their home in Baildon, Bradford, after Smith says she has split up with Brockhill.
April 26 – Star is removed from Anita Smith’s house by her mother and taken to live with Smith and Brockhill.
May 4 – Anita Smith contacts social services after she is told about Brockhill ‘slam-choking’ Star.
June – David Fawcett posts a picture of Star with bruises on Facebook alongside a happier shot and with the caption ‘From this to this in five weeks, what’s going on Frankie?’
June 21 – Star’s father, Jordan Hobson, contacts social services. Police take Star for a hospital examination. Smith says her daughter had hit her face on a coffee table.
June 23 – Another friend of the Smith family contacts social services with concerns.
August 14 – David Fawcett and Anita Smith see Frankie and Star for the last time.
August 28 – David Fawcett is sent a video of Star with bruises and confronts Brockhill.
September 2 – Another of Star’s great-grandfathers, Frank Smith, contacts social services after seeing video of bruises on the youngster’s face. Social workers make an unannounced visit.
September 15 – Social services closes the case after concluding the referral to be ‘malicious’.
September 22 – Star is seriously injured at the flat in Wesley Place, Keighley, and dies later in hospital.
December 14 – Following a trial at Bradford Crown Court Brockhill is convicted of Star’s murder while Smith is convicted of causing or allowing the toddler’s death.
Jurors heard that Smith’s family and friends had growing fears about bruising they saw on the little girl in the months before she died and made a series of complaints to social services.
In each case Brockhill and Smith managed to convince social workers that marks on Star were accidental or that the complaints were made maliciously by people who did not like their relationship.
Prosecutors described how the injuries that caused Star’s death involved extensive damage to her abdominal cavity ’caused by a severe and forceful blow or blows, either in the form of punching, stamping or kicking to the abdomen’.
Jurors also heard there were other injuries on her body which meant that ‘in the course of her short life, Star had suffered a number of significant injuries at different times’.
On September 2, Frank alerted social services to a video of Star with bruises on her face.
When they visited her, her mother was said to have been in Scotland. The next day they went again unannounced and found her at home with Brockhill.
During an unannounced social worker visit to their Keighley home on September 15 last year Star was so dazed by the abuse she had suffered she walked into a sofa.
She had bruises on her face and shins but the Bradford City Council worker believed Brockhill’s explanation she’d fallen down the stairs.
In fact she was being ‘choke slammed’, swung by her leg and hit in the face by the twisted couple.
They referred to her as a ‘brat’ and forced her to stand facing the wall for long periods of time during their reign of cruelty.
In total two friends and three relatives – including Star’s own father – had reported them to social services but they were still allowed to keep her.
Tuesday’s verdicts fuelled mounting calls for sweeping reform, amid widespread outcry over the case of murdered six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by his cruel stepmother earlier this month.
It later emerged that the Children’s Services boss in charge of Star’s care quit his £121,000-a-year post just days before Smith and Brockhill went on trial.
Mark Douglas became Bradford Council’s third Director of Children’s Services to quit within a turbulent three year period.
The department was rocked by an Ofsted report in 2018 which branded it ‘inadequate’ and said some children under its care were ‘at risk of serious harm.’
Michael Jameson quit as director soon after the report was released and he was succeeded by Gladys Rhodes White, who left less than a year later.
On his arrival in May 2019, Mr Douglas, formerly Director of Children’s Social Care at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, vowed to ‘develop good and outstanding services for the city and district.’
Police released a picture of Star smiling happily before the torment from her mother and her murdering girlfriend began
Abused Star was so dazed she walked into a sofa in view of social worker during one visit
Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, said at the time: ‘Mark will be key to us achieving this so we put the voice and needs of our young people at the heart of all we do.’
The former social worker suddenly quit on October 15, just before the trial at Bradford Crown Court began.
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