Minimum 19 years in prison for chef who murdered stepdaughter, two

A “callous coward” who murdered his two-year-old stepdaughter in a “savage” attack has been told he must serve at least 19 years in prison.

Chef Martin Johnson, 20, left Erin Tomkins with catastrophic, multiple injuries as he was supposed to be caring for her at her home in Sheffield, a court heard.

A judge at Sheffield Crown Court said these injuries could have been caused by shaking or an impact or a combination or both as he described how Johnson also injured Erin, who was a few weeks short of her second birthday, on other occasions.

The youngster had suffered a broken arm at one point during her short life and 10 fractures to her spine, all caused by her stepfather.

Crown court stock
Crown court stock

The judge, Mr Justice Goss, sentenced Johnson to life in prison with a minimum tariff of 19 years as he remarked that the defendant had shown no remorse.

Johnson was sentenced after he was found guilty of murder and two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent by a jury which deliberated for under two hours on Friday.

He told police Erin had collapsed in front of him as they played but prosecutors told the jury of four men and eight women how medical experts found multiple injuries.

The jury heard how Erin was taken to hospital on Monday May 21 2018, after Johnson phoned 999 from his partner Kira 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.

In an impact statement read to the court, Erin’s mother, Miss Tomkins said: “I simply do not understand who somebody could hurt a baby in this way.”

She said she had been turned in to a “walking zombie” by her daughter’s death.

Speaking outside court, Miss Tomkins said: “Erin was the most beautiful bright and funny little red-headed girl.

“She added so much to our lives and she will be loved and missed every day.”

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 long career.

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

The detective said: “Martin Johnson has been a cold, calculating liar.

“This man is a bully, an awful man, who’s tried throughout the trial to blame the mother of the child for these terrible, terrible injuries.

“For me, he’s a callous coward that really deserves every day of those 19 years in prison.”

Mr Whittaker said: “This is 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 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 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 savage, attack.”