THE defence of Savannah Brockhill began today in the trial into the alleged murder of 16-month-old Star Hobson.

Brockhill, 28, of Hawthorn Close, Keighley, is accused of murdering Star on September 22, 2020, along with Star’s mother Frankie Smith, 20, of Wesley Place, Keighley.

They both deny the charges put against them.

This morning (Friday) Brockhill took to the witness stand to give evidence, following the conclusion of the prosecution’s case against her and Smith.

Brockhill, a former carer and amateur boxer who most recently worked in security as a dog handler and also a bouncer at The Sun pub in Bradford city centre, was questioned by her barrister Kath Goddard QC.

She described how she and Smith had first met while she was working at The Sun and Smith was there with a boyfriend; they began chatting and became an item a couple of weeks later.

Brockhill described the relationship as “very on-off”, but said she had a good relationship with Smith’s mother Yvonne Spendley and sister Alicia Szepler.

She said when she first met Smith, she had said Star - her months old daughter - was actually her sister, but soon became aware of the reality.

She described Smith as “a good mum, a bit neglectful at times but she was good”, and said life in Yvonne’s house was “chaotic, it was overcrowded and there was no routine”.

Brockhill suggested to Smith that Star needed a routine, with set feeding and sleep times, because “she cared about Star and Frankie and had experience with children”.

She suggested using a “controlled crying” technique she saw on the TV show Supernanny.

Brockhill said: “I didn’t force it, just advised.

“Frankie tried it, putting her down at 7pm and feeding regularly. Star began resting more and sleeping through.”

Brockhill also bought clothes and a new pram for Star in the early days of the relationship.

“Frankie was a single mum on benefits, I had income to help so I did. I’d have done it for anyone if I could, it was for Star. I doted on her.”

Ms Goddard moved onto an incident at Yvonne’s home after a night out where there was an altercation between Smith and Brockhill.

Brockhill said: “We’d been out and got home at about 4am, Frankie had come home early, at 2am.

“I was in a bedroom with Alicia, I laid down because my head was spinning.

“Frankie came in shouting at me, saying if I wanted her sister [Alicia] I could have her.

“I laughed and said stop being silly and she began smacking me, on my arms. She was upset, angry.

“I grabbed her arm, pulled her back into my chest, put my arms around her to calm her down and tell her nothing was going on.

“She told me to get off and stormed into her room. I didn’t hit her or use any other physical force.

“We talked it over the next morning at breakfast.”

Ms Goddard also asked about an incident at The Sun pub on March 14, when Brockhill admitted punching Smith.

She said: “We’d been in the toilets, her and Alicia were arguing over a boy.

“I’d heard enough and walked out, Frankie was behind me, then Alicia and Yvonne.

“I had a beer bottle in my right hand and felt someone grab my left arm/shoulder.

“As I was turned round I just punched with my right hand, it was a reaction, I don’t like getting grabbed from behind in a pub setting.

“It connected with Frankie, on her chin and bottom lip. The end of the bottle connected with her tooth, chipping her front tooth.

“I apologised straight away. Frankie said it was ok and she knew I didn’t mean to. Alicia and Yvonne would have seen the punch but not where.

“They said ‘I can’t believe you’ve just hit Frankie’. I tried to explain myself, we were all drunk, they were irate. Frankie pushed me out of the pub and said let’s leave, I drove us home back to Keighley, it was silly of me to do that.

“The next morning Frankie had a mark under her left eye and her lip was cut and swollen and her tooth was chipped. I said, surely all that isn’t just from one connection, I was shocked at her face from one punch.

“Frankie said I’d tried to drive us off a cliff that night, I couldn’t recall that, I was drunk.

“I was so downhearted in myself about what had happened.

“I apologised to Frankie, she accepted it. We made up that morning.”

Brockhill also said that she believed she remained on good terms with Yvonne and Alicia after the incident, and that on no other occasion had she used physical force towards Smith.

The trial continues.