Ex-boyfriend of Star Hobson’s mother ‘begged her to leave bouncer girlfriend who murdered her daughter and to tell social workers the truth about abuse’
The ex-boyfriend of Star Hobson’s mother said today he was haunted over questions over whether he could have done more to save her.
Pete Penman, 24, had been seeing Frankie Smith, 20, on and off before she met Savannah Brockhill, 28, the woman who would become her girlfriend and kill her daughter.
He said he had begged her to leave her and tell social workers what self-declared ‘Number one psycho’ Brockhill was doing.
But Mr Penman, a bus driver, claimed she was worried about social services taking away Star.
Pete Penman (pictured) said he begged Frankie Smith to split from Savannah Brockhill
Mr Penman said Frankie Smith was too frightened to leave Savannah Brockhill (both left0 despite the abuse suffered by her daughter Star Hobson (right)
Brockhilll was jailed for at least 25 years yesterday for murdering innocent little Star after a reign of terror on the little girl where she repeatedly punched and abused her.
Her girlfriend Frankie Smith – who was the toddler’s mother – was sentenced to eight years for allowing the killing to happen.
Mr Penman said: ‘It was all when Savannah came along. Everything changed. Frankie changed with me, she changed with everyone.
‘She used to be open for meeting up and then when Savannah came along, she would make excuses, she would make any excuse to put it off.
‘Frankie told me numerous times that Savannah had hit her. I told her to get rid of her and she said, “will do, I will do”, I think she tried but she was just in too much of a pickle with her.
‘Social services got involved and she rang me for advice, because I have a lot of experience with social services through work, and I told her to tell the truth because they would find out anyway. I urged her many times.
Murderer Savannah Brockhill, 28, is pictured with boxing heavyweight champ Tyson Fury
‘She said, “yeah but I’ll lose Star”. A million questions went through my mind when I heard the news.
‘One of my first questions was whether Savannah was there and I asked myself if I could have done more to have prevented this,’ he told the Metro.
Frankie’s mother Yvonne Spendley told MailOnline that her daughter was not in a sexual relationship with Pete Penman but did confide in him regularly.
She said: ‘I never met Pete but Frankie told me about him. They were very close as friends and she spoke to him a lot about what was going on for her.
‘They saw each other quite often but I wouldn’t say they were boyfriend and girlfriend. But she told him a lot of stuff that was going on for her.’
Brockhill – who callously waved and grinned at her family in court – brutally attacked innocent Star after months of violence allowed by Smith, who teamed up with her to hoodwink police and social services.
Five times social workers, twice accompanied by police, saw the abusive couple but chalked off complaints as ‘malicious’ and left Star with them a week before they killed her.
Partners in death: Savannah Brockhill, 28 and Frankie Smith, 20, have both been jailed
Babysitter Hollie Jones alerted social services but they told Frankie Smith they were coming
A timeline of failures: How social services and police missed abuse of tragic Star
January 23, 2020 – A referral from Smith’s friend and sometimes babysitter Hollie Jones went to social services.
She flagged up potential domestic violence issues and the fact Star was increasingly being left in her care.
Three days later police visited but there were no concerns raised. Social services tried to visit Smith on January 28 but she was not home.
Her family were spoken to and no problems were raised, so the case was closed on February 27.
May 5, 2020 – Star’s great-grandmother Anita Smith contacted social services over concerns over how the baby was being treated.
They visited but there were no bruises to either the baby or her mother.
Social services spoke to Frankie Smith and Brockhill and the latter gave them permission to do police checks on her.
June 21, 2020 – Jordan Hobson, Star’s father, referred Smith and Brockhill to social services after seeing pictures the couple had shared of his daughter’s bruised face.
Police again visited their home and saw the markings on the baby’s head.
Smith told them Star had hit her head on the handle of a coffee table.
A medical examination found two bruises on her cheek and four on the back of her leg.
Smith and Brockhill’s explanation that they were from her playing with a puppy were believed.
June 23, 2020 – Social services were again contacted by Rachel Whiteley, a close friend of Smith’s mother Yvonne Spendley.
She had been concerned how Smith had treated Star at a barbecue, picking her up roughly.
Ms Whiteley said at the time: ‘I thought it was disgusting, giving her barbecue food, the way she handled her.’
Social services closed the case in July, it is not clear what was done.
September 2, 2020 – Frank Smith – Star’s paternal great-grandfather – 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.
They noticed Star was so unsteady on her feet she walked into a sofa while they were there.
There were also bruises on her cheek and right shin but were told by Brockhill she had fallen down the stairs.
The murderer told police later what the social worker had said, adding: ‘Social services came to see Star, she checked her body, her bedroom, chatted with us about Star, she said the report was malicious.’
On September 15 social services closed the case, indeed concluding the referral had been ‘malicious’.
A week later Star was murdered.
Judge Mrs Justice Lambert told Brockhill and Smith their dark obsession with each other fueled a life of ‘neglect, cruelty and injury’ for the little girl.
Smith will have to serve just two-thirds of her sentence before being considered for release and her 443 days on remand could mean she will be free in just over four years.
Sentencing, the judge told Bradford Crown Court: ‘Star was caught in the crossfire of your relationship.
‘The messages sent between you are petty squabbles, fights, often triggered by alcohol which descended into arguments. Star was the victim of these pointless, self-obsessed fights.
‘Star was so vulnerable, and your relationship affording the chance to mistreat her.
‘You both behaved in a cruel and callous way to Star. You made her stand at the wall for what were just antics of a child.
‘You delayed calling emergency services by at least 11 minutes.
‘While we know an earlier call would not have saved Star, you were not to know that, instead making Google searches.
‘You then misled the emergency services, rather than admit what you did you put on a good show, suggesting you may have caused it by doing CPR.’
The judge made it clear she believed both women had inflicted ‘sadistic attacks’ on Star.
She tore a strip off sobbing Smith – whose lawyer had tried to claim was also a victim – telling her that her daughter’s life was ‘marked by neglect, cruelty and injury’.
Mrs Justice Lambert added: ‘Frankie Smith, it was your role to protect Star from harm, you failed to protect her, allowing her death.’
‘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 the ‘fatal punch or kick’ to Star caused the toddler to lose half the blood in her body and damaged her internal organs.
Harrowing victim impact statements were read by Star’s paternal and maternal great-grandparents which told of their agony.
Great-grandfather Bernard Hobson said: ‘We loved looking after her. When she was with us, she was a sunny, happy, delightful baby girl.
‘She was so affectionate. She was always smiling.
‘She was loved by all members of our family.
‘We last saw Star on Mother’s Day, we made cards, painting her hand and footprints for her mother. We didn’t think then we would never see her again.’
Great-grandmother Anita Smith said: ‘All I want is Star back, I know there is nothing anyone can say or do to change what happened but it doesn’t stop me praying every day.
‘I kiss her photo every night and say goodnight Star, and morning beautiful when I wake up.’
The Attorney General has been urged to review the ‘lenient’ sentence of Star Hobson’s mother after the child’s family slammed the ‘staggeringly soft’ term.
Smith was given just eight years in prison – meaning she could be out in four – after a judge reduced her sentence to account for the ‘burden’ of knowing she played a significant role in the death of her 16-month-old daughter.