Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Erin Tomkins: Stepdad Martin Johnson jailed for murder

Erin Emilia Rain Tomkins Image copyright Family photograph
Image caption Erin Tomkins had bleeding to both eyes, bruising and bleeding to the surface of her brain

A man has been jailed for at least 19 years after been found guilty of killing his 22-month-old stepdaughter.

Erin Tomkins was found with bruises on her face and body as well as bleeding to both eyes and on the surface of her brain on 22 May 2018.

Pathologists who examined her body "strongly suspected" her injuries were the result of being punched.

Martin Johnson, 20, of Leighton Road, Sheffield, denied murder but was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court.

Johnson was sentenced to life, with minimum term of 19 years, for murdering Erin.

He was also sentenced to six years to run concurrently for causing grievous bodily harm with intent, in relation to a broken arm and a number of fractures to Erin's spine inflicted in the weeks leading up to her death.

Image copyright South Yorkshire Police
Image caption Martin Johnson was convicted following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court

Prosecutor David Brooke QC said the attack was the culmination of a "pattern of behaviour" by Johnson and not a "one-off fit of temper".

Erin was admitted to Sheffield Children's Hospital after Johnson rang 999 but died the following day.

Johnson told police he had been playing with Erin at her home when she suddenly collapsed in front of him on 21 May.

However, Mr Brooke said a pathologist found "unequivocal evidence of multiple impacts to the head and face from external bruising".

He said medics found the injuries she suffered were "simply not reconcilable" with Johnson's account of events.

The court heard Johnson met Erin's mother Kira in April 2017 and, after the birth of their daughter in December 2017, he moved in in early 2018.

On 13 March, Erin suffered a broken arm and between March and April also suffered four fractured vertebrae.

Johnson, who was 19 at the time, claimed Erin had broken her arm when she fell from a sofa while he was changing her nappy.

Mr Brooke said that during April she was also seen with bruising to her head, stomach and cheek.

Speaking outside the court, Det Ch Insp Steve Whittaker said the murder was one of the worst crimes he had dealt with in his 32-year career.

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