THE mother of fatally injured toddler Star Hobson took to the witness stand today to begin her defence against the charges that she murdered her daughter.

Frankie Smith, 20, of Wesley Place, Keighley, is accused of killing Star on September 22, 2020, along with her partner Savannah Brockhill, 28, of Hawthorn Close, Keighley.

Both women deny murdering the 16-month-old, and also deny causing or allowing her death.

Following the end of Brockhill's defence case, Smith was called to the stand by her representative Zafar Ali QC.

Giving evidence, Smith told the court when she first met Brockhill she "liked her confidence but had never looked at a girl in that way before" and also said she is not a lesbian despite being in a relationship with Brockhill over several months.

She told the jury that physical assaults on her by Brockhill "began right at the start of the relationship" and when asked why she didn't just leave her older partner, she said "didn't know" and she was "too scared" of what Brockhill would do if she tried to end the relationship.

Mr Ali turned to two incidents previously mentioned in the trial when Brockhill is accused of being violent towards Smith, the first in a bedroom at Smith's mother Yvonne Spendley's house after a night out.

Smith said the incident occurred in November 2019 - Brockhill had timed it at January 2020.

Smith said she, Brockhill, Yvonne and her elder sister Alicia Szepler had been on a night out in Bradford before returning home drunk to Yvonne's house, where family friend Holly Jones had been babysitting Star.

She, Brockhill and Alicia were in a bedroom, Smith said, before adding: "Savannah got in bed, I asked her to come to bed with me in my bedroom and she wouldn't come.

"I just left her to it, kept asking her to come. Then she said something inappropriate and I shouted at her.

"She jumped up and grabbed hold of me, her arm around my neck from behind and pulled me into her chest.

"I remember her saying I'll 'only be out for a few minutes'. I thought she meant like pass out. I didn't pass out, I was trying to pull her arm off but she was too strong.

"When Savannah let go of me I went into my room crying and that's when Holly saw me, she came upstairs.

"I was on my bed crying. She was asking me if I was alright. Then Savannah came into my room and grabbed hold of Holly, the back of her neck."

Smith told the court Brockhill had forced her to limit her social interactions, starting with stopping Star's father and paternal grandparents from seeing her.

"I thought it was wrong and unfair," Smith said. When Mr Ali asked why she didn't say anything, Smith said she "felt like I didn't have a choice".

Smith said she was also banned from talking to all men, and later some members of her family.

Referring to the Snapchat video of Brockhill on Smith's account, where Brockhill calls herself a "psycho" and threatens to break people's kneecaps, Smith said she didn't ask Brockhill to film it or put it on her phone.

Asked why she didn't stop her or leave Brockhill, she said: "I felt like I didn't have a choice. I was too scared, I didn't know what she'd do to me or my family."

On the night when Brockhill told Smith's sister Alicia she would "stab someone tonight" because she didn't know where Smith was, Smith told the court she was with Star's father but hadn't told Brockhill, and that night she received "over 200 messages and 100 missed calls" from Brockhill and "a video of her licking blood off a wall".

Describing the incident in the Sub pub on March 14, 2020, Smith said she was talking to a man in the pub when Brockhill saw her and grabbed her arm and called her a "whore", before taking her into the toilets to "shout at her".

Yvonne and Alicia went in after them and when everything seemed to have calmed down the left the toilets, Smith said, Brockhill at the front and her behind.

Smith said: "Savannah all of a sudden just stopped. She span round, stared at me, then just punched me.

I think she had a WKD bottle in her hand. It bust all my lip, bust my nose, chipped one of my teeth. My nose was bleeding.

"I was in shock. I didn't expect it."

Smith said she dragged Brockhill outside and made her drive them home because she was worried she may fight with her mother.

She said on the way back to Brockhill's house, she was "backhanded" a few times and once at the house Brockhill "slapped her arms and kicked her legs", leaving bruising.

Asked why she didn't run from Brockhill's house, Smith said: "I had no money, no car, I can't drive.

" I don't know why I didn't ring for help, I was scared. I didn't want anyone coming to her house in case she started again.

"She often said to me no one was allowed to know where she lived."

Video clips of Star were also played, of Smith shouting at Star and trying to scare her, and from the day Star was exhausted and fell off a chair and into her bowl of food.

Smith said she shouted at Star "because Savannah told me to be more firm with her" and at the time thought the videos of Star tired were funny, but in hindsight accepts her behaviour was "cruel" and "makes her feel sick".

The trial continues.