Fugitive convicted of man's murder

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The Independent Online

A fugitive murderer was convicted today of killing a young father in front of his children - then fleeing to the "Costa del Crime".

Killer James Tomkins, 61, lived in exile under an assumed identity on the Costa del Sol, Spain, after the "brutal execution" of 24-year-old Rocky Dawson.

Mr Dawson was shot several times in the back as he put the children, aged two and six, in his Fiat Punto on the drive of the family's home in Hornchurch, Essex in 2006.

After several years on the run, Tomkins, who was named as one of Britain's 10 most wanted criminals in 2008, was traced near Marbella and extradited.

He was found guilty of murder by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court.

Tomkins shot Mr Dawson from a dark-blue Land Rover Freelander vehicle which drove past as the attack took place. The children were unharmed during the incident.

Tomkins' accomplice Christopher Pearman, of Waltham Abbey, received a life sentence for the murder at the same court in 2007.

Detective Inspector Mark Lawson said: "This was a brutal execution of a totally innocent young man in what we believe to have been a case of mistaken identity.

"He was gunned down in front of his two children who were lucky to have escaped uninjured. Aged just six and two years at the time they undoubtedly still carry the scars of that fateful day in 2006.

"Despite the arrest and subsequent conviction of Christopher Pearman we knew James Tomkins was a key player in this murder.

"He sought to distance himself from the investigation by fleeing to Spain where he lived for four years. Since his extradition and return to the UK he has shown no remorse for his callous actions."

Candy Dawson, Mr Dawson's mother, added: "Rocky will always live on in our memory and our hearts."

Tomkins will be sentenced on Monday.