Man jailed for murder of child

Date published: 08 February 2019 16:01
Dated: 08 February 2019 16:01:04

A 20-year-old man has today (Friday 8 February) been found guilty of the murder of a toddler in Sheffield and jailed for life.

Martin Johnson (pictured right), formerly of Leighton Road, Gleadless, has been on trial at Sheffield Crown Court since Monday 21 January charged with the murder of Erin Emilia Rain Tomkins (pictured below).

Today, after less than two hours of deliberations, he was found guilty of Erin’s murder in a unanimous verdict by the jury.

During the trial, two charges of Section 18 wounding were added to the indictment. Johnson was also found guilty of these charges.

He was sentenced this afternoon to life in prison, to serve a minimum term of 19 years.

He was also jailed for six years for each count of assault, which will run alongside his life term.

The court heard how Erin, who was one month away from turning two-years-old, was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital on Monday 21 May 2018.

Paramedics had responded to reports that Erin was unconscious and not breathing, at around 10am that morning. She was taken to hospital with significant injuries, where she was placed on life support.

Police were called after paramedics and medical professionals raised concerns that Erin’s injuries appeared suspicious and non-accidental.

Sadly, just after 12.30am on Tuesday 22 May 2018, Erin died.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker, senior investigating officer, said: “This has been a highly emotive case, where my officers have had to examine the circumstances surrounding the horrific death of a child.

“I offer my condolences to Erin’s mother and her family, who are still trying to come to terms with their loss. This trial must have been incredibly painful for those affected by Erin’s death and Erin’s mother in particular has shown considerable strength, providing evidence and supporting the police investigation.

“Johnson has shown no remorse for his crime whatsoever and has consistently denied his involvement in Erin’s death, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. To compound this, he has told lie after lie before the court, even attempting to blame Erin’s mum for the injuries, which clearly has caused even more distress for the family.

“All of the evidence has been meticulously reviewed and the only person responsible for this horrific offence is Martin Johnson.”

Following Erin’s death a post-mortem examination was held. This found evidence of numerous spinal fractures, in excess of 27 bruises that were both old and recent, and significant head injuries. Erin had also received a broken arm whilst being in the custody of Johnson, two months before her tragic murder in May.

DCI Whittaker added: “Erin suffered what was described as a catastrophic head injury at Johnson’s hands, which caused irreparable damage and was consistent with multiple blunt force impacts, consistent with being punched and violently assaulted.

“This harrowing evidence was then reinforced by deeply troubling testimony from Erin’s mother about Johnson’s behaviour, who stated that Erin would become deeply distressed if left alone with him.

“This little girl suffered tragically at Johnson’s hands for months. The injuries Erin suffered must have left her in unimaginable pain, unable to communicate to anyone what was happening to her.

“In all my years as a police officer, I have never worked on a case as harrowing and horrific as this one.

“While I am pleased Johnson has been convicted, a successful conviction does not bring Erin back. I hope that Erin’s loved ones and the community affected by this awful incident feel some sort of closure following today’s hearing, knowing that the person responsible for harming her now faces a lengthy custodial sentence.

“I also want to take this opportunity to recognise the work of my investigative team, who were also  affected by this case. The death of a child is always very upsetting but those officers and staff involved have shown compassion, the utmost professionalism and tirelessly sought to achieve justice for Erin.

“I want to thank the specialists and professionals involved in this inquiry, including the Home Office pathologist Dr Charles Wilson, other professional witnesses including Dr Duplesi and medical staff from the Sheffield Children’s hospital. Their expertise was of vital importance to understanding what happened to Erin and I’m grateful for their support.”

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