Chef found guilty of murdering one-year-old stepdaughter

South Yorkshire Police's Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker (left) outside Sheffield Crown Court after chef Martin Johnson was found guilty of murdering his one-year-old stepdaughter, Erin Emilia Rain Tomkins (right).
South Yorkshire Police's Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker (left) outside Sheffield Crown Court after chef Martin Johnson was found guilty of murdering his one-year-old stepdaughter, Erin Emilia Rain Tomkins (right).
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A chef has been found guilty of murdering his one-year-old stepdaughter.

Martin Johnson, 20, told police he had been playing with Erin Tomkins at her home when she suddenly collapsed in front of him.

But prosecutors told a jury of four men and eight women at Sheffield Crown Court that medical experts found a number of bruises on Erin's body, including "10 areas of injury to the head and face".

A post-mortem examination found that Erin, who was a few weeks short of her second birthday, had also suffered a broken arm and a number of fractures to her spine in the weeks leading up to her death.

Johnson was found guilty of murder on Friday morning after less than two hours of deliberations, along with two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He stared straight ahead as he stood in the dock for the verdicts, flanked by two security guards.

The judge, Mr Justice Goss, said he will be sentenced on Friday afternoon.

Erin's mother Kira Tomkins was in tears in the public gallery along with members of her family as the verdict was returned.

The jury heard how Erin was taken to hospital on Monday May 21 2018 after Johnson phoned 999 from Miss Tomkins's home in Leighton Road, in the Gleadless area of Sheffield.

Staff at Sheffield Children's Hospital found bruises on her face and body, bruising and bleeding to the surface of her brain, which was also swollen, and bleeding to both eyes.

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

Mr Whittaker said: "This is a man, Martin Johnson, who has shown absolutely no remorse whatsoever and has been in total denial.

"To make it even worse he's tried to blame Erin's mother for this awful, awful crime.

"It's probably one of the worst crimes I've witnessed in almost 32 years of policing."

He said: "This is a man who came into this girl's life and five months later she was dead. He moved into the house and three months later she was dead.

"This is a man who took it on himself to break a little girl's arm and when they presented at the hospital said she'd fallen off the sofa.

"This is a man who at some stage caused a girl to have four back fractures. This is a man responsible for 27 bruises on that little girl and then went on to kill that little girl."

He said: "This is a man who's been quite abhorrent throughout and he's got what he deserves in the end."

The officer said: "With some work through eminent pathologists and neurosurgeons, we could prove that this child became immediately unwell after this savage, and it was a savage attack.

"No matter what he tried to throw down for the jury in the form of red herrings and smoke screens, the jury, after an hour-and-half, saw through his lies. And they were absolute lies throughout his times in court."