Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Erin Tomkins murder: Stepdad 'punched toddler'

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, jurors were told

A chef accused of murdering his 22-month-old stepdaughter is "strongly suspected" of punching the toddler, a court heard.

Erin Tomkins died of multiple injuries at Sheffield Children's Hospital shortly after midnight on 22 May 2018.

Martin Johnson, 20, from Sheffield, denies murder and two counts of causing her grievous bodily harm with intent.

Sheffield Crown Court was told he is the "only person who could have been responsible" for the injuries.

The toddler was just a few weeks short of her second birthday when she suddenly collapsed in front of Mr Johnson - who claimed they had been playing "high fives" - at her home in Leighton Road, in the Gleadless area, jurors heard.

Hospital staff found bruises on her face and body, bleeding to both eyes, bruising and bleeding to the surface of her brain, which was also swollen, the court was told.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Erin Tomkins "suddenly collapsed in front of Mr Johnson" at her home in Leighton Road

Prosecutor David Brooke QC said she had suffered "10 areas of impacts to the head and face", a broken arm and a number of fractures to her spine in the weeks leading up to her death.

He told the jury the injuries were part of a "pattern of behaviour" by Mr Johnson.

"The prosecution suggest that this was not a one-off fit of pique or temper but someone who had struck at a very young child more than once, and if you accept it, had broken her bones," he said.

Mr Brooke said a pathologist "strongly suspected punching" caused a number of bruises around the little girl's ear.

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He added: "In the opinion of the experts, the findings are simply not reconcilable with the description that the defendant gave to the doctors of Erin watching television and playing 'high fives' just before her collapse.

"In other words, given he admits being the only person with her at the time, all the medical evidence points to the defendant being the only person who could have been responsible."

Jurors heard Mr Johnson was staying with his partner, Erin's mother Kira Tomkins, at the time. The couple also have another daughter together.

Miss Tomkins, then 18, told police Mr Johnson would get angry because Erin would scream when he put a nappy on and get upset when he was around, the court heard.

The trial continues.

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