Tuesday, 22 March 2011

contract killer shot dead a young father in front of his two young children before moving to Spain to start a new life under an assumed identity, a court heard today.

A contract killer shot dead a young father in front of his two young children before moving to Spain to start a new life under an assumed identity, a court heard today.

Hitman James Tomkins, 61, blasted 24-year-old Rocky Dawson in the back with a handgun as the victim helped his son and daughter in to his car on the driveway of his parents' home.

Tomkins fired the shots from the passenger seat of a Land Rover Freelander in a 'deliberate, calculated and cold-blooded' drive-by shooting on May 2, 2006, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Shot dead: Young father Rocky Dawson was allegedly gunned down in front of his children by James Tomkins, right, who is accused of murder

He then fled the country and spent four years living under a false name in Europe.

When police tracked him down in Spain last year he had with him a fake Irish passport in the name of Michael Lynch.

Tomkins' arrest and subsequent extradition back to the UK followed an 'extensive police inquiry and major manhunt including an appeal on the television programme Crimewatch', jurors were told.

Despite the lengthy investigation police are still unable to establish why Mr Dawson was targeted.

There was no evidence he had been involved in a dispute with Tomkins or the driver of the Freelander Christopher Pearman.

Mr Dawson had some 'trivial' involvement in crime but had no connection to the criminal underworld.

Prosecutor David Hislop QC said 'there remains a terrible possibility that Rocky Dawson's killers had mistaken him for someone else.

'You may think this murder has all the hallmarks of a contract killing, an assassination or execution,' he said.

'It was clearly very carefully planned in advance. The Freelander had recently been stolen and was fitted with false number plates. It had been cleaned of fingerprints before they embarked on the killing.

'Tomkins and Pearman plainly knew where Rocky Dawson's parents lived and he was a regular visitor to that address.

'The two men were sufficiently confident to shoot him as he tended to his children, no doubt thinking their victim's attention would be on his children rather than passing cars.

'They carefully selected a place where the Freelander would be abandoned, providing a route for them down an alleyway and away from the scene and they also clearly brought with them accelerant, petrol and white spirit, with which to destroy the vehicle.' 

Jurors heard Mr Dawson was shot in the back 'without warning' shortly before 9pm as he put the children, aged two and six, in to his Fiat Punto.

The family were about to make the short journey back to his home.

Witnesses heard two or three shots ring out - at least one shattered the back window of the Punto and another fatally wounded Mr Dawson.

Mr Hislop said: 'Horrifically, you may think, Mr Dawson was shot in front of those two young children.' 

The Freelander then pulled away 'quite calmly and slowly'. It was abandoned in Mellish Way, Hornchurch, where it was torched.

The court heard Pearman, of Waltham Abbey, Essex, was 54 at the time of the shooting. He was arrested on May 5 2006 and later pleaded guilty to his involvement in the murder.

He had an interest in a car wash business next to the Golden Lion pub in Borders Lane, Loughton, where he and Tomkins were both regulars.

Tomkins, who spent time at the Waltham Abbey address and at a girlfriend's home in south west London, was extradited from Spain on a European Arrest Warrant on September 15 last year.

He denies murder and the trial continues.

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