Star Hobson's grieving grandfather, 50, died from a methadone overdose

Star Hobson’s grandfather, 50, died from a methadone overdose on his daughter’s 20th birthday – months before she was jailed for allowing the toddler’s death, inquest hears

  • Andrew Smith, 50, struggled to cope after Star Hobson’s tragic murder
  • Inquest heard Mr Smith had battled addiction and depression in the past 
  • He died of a drug overdose on Star’s neglectful mother’s 20th birthday 

Tragic Star Hobson’s grieving grandfather died of a drug overdose on her mother’s 20th birthday just months after she let her female lover murder the innocent child.

Andrew Smith, 50, lost his battle with addiction and depression after being rushed to Bradford Royal Infirmary on June 16 last year, an inquest heard today.

Mr Smith had relapsed following a period of sobriety after 16-month-old Star was killed under the watch of his daughter Frankie Smith and murderer Savannah Brockhill in September 2020. 

Frankie was jailed for eight years last month for allowing Star’s death, while Brockhill got a minimum of 25 years for committing the brutal murder.

Bradford Coroner’s Court was told Mr Smith had been found at his flat having suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital but could not be saved.

His death came five days after he had discharged himself from hospital against medical advice after a respiratory arrest following a drugs overdose. 

Andrew Smith, 50, struggled to cope after Star Hobson’s tragic murder in September, 2020

Star was murdered by Savannah Brockhill, under the watch of her own neglectful mother

Partners in death: Savannah Brockhill, 28 and Frankie Smith, 20, were convicted over Star

A post-mortem examination found toxic levels of methadone – a heroin substitute – in his blood, and this was recorded as his cause of death, Bradford Coroners Court heard.

A statement from one of his daughter’s Jade Smith was read out by Assistant Coroner Angela Brocklehurst during the hearing.

She said her father had attended Frizinghall Primary and Hanson School before working in bricklaying, and met his first partner aged 16, with whom he had two children. 

Police released a harrowing picture of one of the bruises on Star’s face that sparked calls to social services from family

Star Hobson (pictured with Brockhill) suffered a cardiac arrest and died in hospital from appalling injuries inflicted on her

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

September 2, 2020 –  Frank Smith – Star’s paternal great-grandfather – alerted social services to a video of Star with bruises on her face. 

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.

After nine years together they split up, and Mr Smith then met Yvonne Spendley, with whom he had five children, and they were together up until 2020 when he moved to a flat in Frizinghall.

Miss Smith said her father was ‘sociable, very funny and a bit of a lad’, but in his final years had become ‘lonely and unhappy’.

He lived with anxiety and depression for many years and also was a long-term drug user.

But she said he had constantly tried to beat his addiction and spent long periods sober before relapsing.

‘He always tried to escape them but the drugs drew him back in, they gave him an escape when things got tough,’ she said.

‘I told him to get off the drugs but it was a losing battle. If he could turn back time he would have lived life differently.’

She said he was a ‘loving and caring’ father, having regular contact with his children and grandchildren, and when she last spoke to him on June 15, 2021, the day before his tragic death, he had enjoyed a ‘good day with the kids’.

Frank Smith, Mr Smith’s father, added he was a ‘good son’ but the drugs had ‘changed him’.

Mr Smith had discharged himself from hospital five days before his tragic passing

A toxicologist report found ‘significant amounts of methadone in his blood, way beyond normal levels even for chronic users’.

The court also heard how he had long-term contact with drug misuse services and received ongoing treatment for his addiction.

At the start of 2021 he was drug free but was drinking ‘a few bottles of whisky a week’ and was alerted to the dangers of using alcohol and methadone and offered help which he declined.

An appointment in May 2021 found traces of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and methadone in his urine and he said he had used drugs.

On June 10, 2021, he was admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary with respiratory arrest due to secondary drug overdose and kept in overnight for tests, but discharged himself the following morning against medical advice.

He was then found at home on June 16 having had a cardiac arrest, and his death was recorded at 9.40pm that day at BRI.

In conclusion, Assistant Coroner Mrs Brocklehurst said: ‘The post-mortem report found this was a methadone related death.

‘I find the cause of death was methadone toxicity, and my conclusion is this was a drugs related death.

‘My condolences and sympathies go to Mr Smith’s family, Jade painted a picture of a man loved and supported by his family who tried to escape addiction; sadly that was not possible and it brought about his sad death, but he tried.

‘It’s a tragic loss and I am sorry for that loss.’

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