The mother of Star Hobson has had her prison sentence for her role in the toddler’s death increased by four years.
Frankie Smith, 20, was jailed at Bradford crown court in December for causing or allowing the death of her 16-month-old daughter, who was killed by Smith’s former partner Savannah Brockhill.
Star died in hospital in September 2020, having suffered “utterly catastrophic” and “unsurvivable” injuries at Brockhill’s hands.
Brockhill, 28, a bouncer and security guard, was found guilty of Star’s murder, while Smith was found guilty of causing or allowing her death and given an eight-year prison sentence.
The attorney general’s office referred Smith’s sentence to the court of appeal under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme. On Tuesday, three senior judges increased her sentence to 12 years’ detention.
Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, found that the sentencing judge was wrong to reduce Smith’s sentence from the starting point based on mitigation, including of her losing her daughter.
“On the facts of this case, where Miss Smith had treated Star with such cruelty … the judge was wrong to identify this as a mitigating feature and then give it the weight she did.”
Sharp added: “There was little, if any, to be said in mitigation. In our judgment no less a sentence than 12 years would meet the justice of this case.”
The judge said Star was “particularly vulnerable due to her very young age”, and that “self-evidently, Miss Smith was in a position of trust”.
After her arrest, a psychologist assessed Smith as being in the bottom 2% of intelligence. The psychologist said she was “abnormally compliant” and “abnormally prone to going along with what an authority figure is telling her to do”.
Smith turned 18 a month after Star was born, and her family said she was very immature for her age. She was still playing with dolls when she was 16, favouring lifelike models that she would wrap up when it got cold.
Though she was initially delighted with Star, she soon lost interest and would leave her with friends and family to go out drinking. Relatives began to worry about Star after Smith started a relationship with Brockhill, who worked as a bouncer in her local pub.
The pair would film themselves taunting Star, sending clips to their friends, with music and captions added for dramatic effect.
Smith told the jury she did not understand at the time that what she was doing amounted to child abuse. “I loved my Star,” she said, despite them having heard she had previously referred to her daughter as “cunt” and “it”.
Partway through the trial, she said she had seen the light, and pleaded guilty to neglecting Star on at least eight separate occasions in the month up to her death. This included one incident caught on CCTV in Bradford city centre, where she was seen dragging Star along the pavement using her reins.