THE sister of alleged baby killer Frankie Smith told a court today of the moment she learned Smith and girlfriend Savannah Brockhill would “choke slam” Star Hobson.

Giving evidence, Smith’s half-sister Alicia Szepler said the “wrestling move” was used on one-year-old Star Hobson.

Smith, 20, and Brockhill, 28, both deny murdering or causing the death of 16-month-old Star Hobson in September 2020.

The court also heard from Smith's mother, Yvonne Spendley, that she "would not stick up for her daughter if she was responsible for Star's death".

Giving evidence, Miss Szepler was asked to give an example of “handling of Star by the defendants which caused you concern” by prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC.

She said: “They would do this thing with Star called the ‘choke slam’.

“I didn’t see it I just knew about it. It was like a wrestling move. I said it’s a bit rough to be doing to a baby.”

She was also asked about how Smith was as a mother before Brockhill came into her life.

“She was good, she wouldn’t let people hold her for more than a minute because she wanted her back.”

However, when Brockhill entered her life, this changed, Miss Szepler said.

“She started to lose interest in Star. She spent a lot of time on her phone, sometimes FaceTime or audio calls and others just texting a lot of the time Brockhill, or just scrolling.

“She didn’t look after Star the same way. She’d have to be prompted by me or my mum to change nappies.

“When she was small Star was happy, after Smith met Brockhill, Star seemed disconnected from the world and not as full of life, a bit down.”

A few months into the defendants’ relationship, family were stopped from seeing Star.

“Sometimes I would stay over at Smith’s house but I’d have to leave early the next morning as she didn’t want Brockhill to know I’d seen Star.

“Frankie said it was because our Nana had made reports to social services and they said I was taking her side so wasn’t allowed to see Star.

“I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I had seen Star or take pictures and put them on social media. It was so that Brockhill didn’t know I had seen Star.”

Miss Szepler also said Smith began shouting at Star, calling her a “little c***” on one occasion, and would shout at Star if she was making a mess.

“One time I said to Frankie, ‘please get off your phone because Star’s climbing on the bed and might fall’, and the next thing Star had slipped and hit herself on the bed.”

Miss Szepler added that if Star was playing with other children and they started squabbling over toys, it was “always Star who got told off and put in her cot”.

She was also asked about the time Brockhill punched Smith after an argument in a pub, and said the punch “didn’t look like an accident”.

Under cross-examination by Kath Goddard QC, representing Brockhill, Miss Szepler was asked if Smith had always shouted at Star, before Brockhill came along.

“No, not from the beginning, not while Star was newborn,” she replied.

She accepted her relationship with Smith was strained after Star was born, as Smith had to be prompted to take care of Star at times.

She was also asked if she thought her sister was “dishonest” and “manipulative”; she said “yes”.

She also agreed her and Brockhill had been “close friends” and spoke regularly, and this wasn’t affected by the time Brockhill punched Smith at the pub.

A thread of texts between Miss Szepler and Brockhill was read in court on a night when Smith had said she was at hospital, when in reality she had gone out "with a boy".

Miss Szepler said she would "flip" at Smith, "I'd have a go at her because I didn't agree with it," she explained.

In further texts to Miss Szepler, Brockhill said: "Message her, find out if she's with someone."

"I'm broken, I'll stab someone tonight, I swear. I'll go to your mum's after here. Watch. She's everything. I'm not having it.

"I swear Alicia I don't care about kids in the house I'll rage, f*** it, they'll need to have police to take me away. I s*** you not, kids or not I'll find her."

She then accused Miss Szepler of lying to her about Smith, adding: ""I'm done with you too, lying for her, I've only ever done good for you."

Ms Goddard suggested Brockhill was "desperate" and "angry at being lied to", which Miss Szepler agreed with.

Earlier in the day, Yvonne Spendley, the mother of Smith, finished giving her evidence.

Zafar Ali QC, for Smith, asked that while Smith had "shortcomings as a mother, she loved Star", to which Ms Spendley agreed.

Ms Spendley also said she had suspected Smith had post-natal depression after Star's birth, but refused to get diagnosed as she was scared Star would be taken away from her.

When asked if "everything changed with the entrance of Brockhill", she agreed, and agreed Smith was "obsessed with Brockhill".

She agreed she felt Brockhill "controlled Smith and who she could speak to, and having to ask permission to go on a night out".

She said when Brockhill wasn't around, Smith was "more open and sounded like herself", and when Brockhill was with them Smith was quiet and Brockhill "would speak for her".

After the punch in the pub, Ms Spendley agreed Smith looked like she'd "been given a good hiding" but Smith wouldn't say.

On a lunch at Wetherspoons in Shipley, Brockhill made Star face the wall when she wasn't eating her food, Mr Ali said.

Ms Spendley said it "made her feel sick" and she brought her straight back to the table, and that she hated it and would argue with Smith about it. This didn't happen before Brockhill came on the scene, she agreed.

On the day Star died, Ms Spendley said Smith told her she had "heard a bang and went in the room, and Savannah was trying to resuscitate Star", and agreed Smith and Brockhill were the only adults in the flat at that time.

Mr Ali's final question was: "You said if Smith was responsible for Star's death you wouldn't stick up for her. Is that the truth?"

Ms Spendley answered: "Yes."

The trial continues.