Murderer of Sheffield toddler serves first night of life sentence

A ‘callous and cowardly’ killer has served the first night of his life sentence after murdering his 23-month-old stepdaughter in Sheffield.

Martin Johnson, aged 20, was handed a life sentence – and ordered to spend a minimum of 19 years behind bars – at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday.

Martin Johnson.

Martin Johnson.

It took jurors less than two hours to find him guilty of he murder of Shefield toddler Erin Tomkins at the home he shared with her, her mother and her younger sister in Gleadless last May.

READ MORE: ‘Why did he have to kill my beautiful girl?’ – Mum’s pain as killer stepdad sentenced to 19 years behind bars

In a three-week long trial, the court heard that in the three months Johnson had lived with the family, the toddler suffered a broken arm, multiple back fractures and 27 separate bruises.

Speaking outside court, Erin’s mum said the family were pleased that justice had been done.

Erin Tomkins. Picture: South Yorkshire Police

Erin Tomkins. Picture: South Yorkshire Police

She said: “Our family would like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout this ordeal. South Yorkshire Police and the legal team at court have never stopped fighting for Erin.

“Erin was the most beautiful funny little red-haired girl who brought so much joy to our lives and she will be loved and missed every day.”

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In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Goss said this was a bad case of the act of murder, as it was at the culmination of several months of ‘gross physical abuse’.

He told Johnson he must have known the damage he had caused when he broke Erin’s arm in March, but that he continued to inflict really serious harm on her and ultimately killed her.

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He said: “It is not surprising that Erin’s behaviour changed and she became resistant to your handling of her. She would have been in fear of you.

“When you fractured her right upper arm it would have required considerable force but after that you continued to assault her and ultimately killed her.

“You caused Erin a catastrophic and fatal head injury that rendered her immediately unconscious and culminated in her death 14 hours later when her life support was turned off.”