A FORENSIC pathologist has said it is “highly unlikely” that the series of serious injuries and bruises suffered by Star Hobson in the last months of her short life were caused accidentally.

Dr Christopher Johnson, in his second day of giving expert evidence at Bradford Crown Court,  said it was more likely the injuries were “inflicted” and “non-accidental”.

The pathologist was giving evidence on the 15th day of the trial into the alleged murder of 16-month-old Star Hobson on September 22, 2020.

Star’s mother Frankie Smith, 20, of Wesley Place, Keighley, and her partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, of Hawthorn Close, Keighley, deny murdering Star, and causing or allowing the infant’s death.

Dr Johnson was being cross examined by Kath Goddard QC, for Brockhill, and Joseph Templeton, for Smith, who questioned his findings.

Ms Goddard asked about bruises on Star’s back at the time of her death, and asked if they could have been caused by “forceful slapping to try and bring Star round”.

Dr Johnson said: “I cannot rule it out, but I wouldn’t expect that type of bruising from a slap.”

A photo of Star was shown from September 14, 2020, with a bruise to the left cheek – it’s from the day after she was at the recycling plant with Brockhill.

Ms Goddard asked if the bruise could have been caused by a “circular object”.

“It’s tricky to say, potentially,” said Dr Johnson, “but you have to look at the whole case and all of the photos.

“That is why I concluded this was likely to be caused by slaps or punching.”

Ms Goddard asked: “Even what ends up being a serious looking bruise, it isn’t obvious and immediate straight away is it?”

Dr Johnson replied: “Children don’t just get severe bruising like that. Even if it was a strange accident, it would be immediately obvious to a caregiver what has happened and that they would take that child straight to hospital.

“I used to work in A&E and if I saw a child with those injuries I would be very concerned that the child had suffered an inflicted injury.”

On the suggestion of injuries to Star’s frenulums being caused by a fall or something being forcibly inserted into her mouth, Dr Johnson said this was “doubtful” and said they were more likely caused by a “slap”, and they were “highly suspicious, non-accidental injuries”.

Asked if Star’s broken ribs could have been caused by falling down the stairs and hitting them on a step, Dr Johnson described that notion as “highly unlikely”, and he believed they were “non-accidental”.

On how Star’s leg fracture would be caused, and the age of the her skull fracture, Dr Johnson said he would defer to bone expert Professor Mangham, who gave evidence on Tuesday.

Also read out in court were conversations recorded in prison between Brockhill and family members.

Dr Yaron Matras, a lingustics professor specialising in Roma-Gypsy language, helped translate the conversations.

During the course of the conversations, Brockhill said she “would take the deal if it came back as murder”.

She also told her sister her car needed cleaning and said something in Romani.

Dr Matras said: “ It means “dead, or the spirit of the dead, or ghost, and then baby”.

Referring to the recycling plant, Brockhill also said: “You know where I used to work.

“Cameras there, if there is I’m well stuffed, right up the backside.”

The trial continues.