Guilty: Life sentence looms for killer who shot Gidea Park dad in front of kids

The family of tragic Rocky Dawson finally saw justice today (Friday) as a contract killer was convicted of his murder - five years after the dad-of-two was gunned down in front of his children in Hornchurch.

Hitman James Tomkins, 61, became one of Britain’s most wanted men after fleeing to Spain, following the shooting.

He spent four years living under an assumed identity in the luxurious Costa del Sol resort of Puerto Banus.

The Met issued a �20,000 reward for his capture but it was not until August last year, after an extensive manhunt and appeals on BBC1’s Crimewatch, Tomkins was traced to Marbella, arrested and extradited in September.

He now faces a life sentence with a minimum 30 year starting point and will likely die behind bars.

A jury in Woolwich Crown Court convicted him of murder following a two-week trial.

The verdict was met with shouts of ‘yes’ from Mr Dawson’s family.

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Tomkins opened fire with a handgun, from the passenger seat of a Freelander, in a “deliberate, calculated and cold-blooded” drive-by shooting on May 2 2006

He blasted Rocky, 24, as he helped his son and daughter into his car on the driveway of his parents’ home in Ardleigh Green Road.

Despite a lengthy investigation police are still unable to establish why Rocky, who lived in Elvet Avenue, Gidea Park, was targeted.

Prosecutor Martin Heslop, QC said: “There remains a terrible possibility that Rocky Dawson’s killers had mistaken him for someone else.”

Mum Candy Dawson, told the Recorder after the hearing: “I have mixed emotions: happy Tomkin’s been convicted and sad I had to relive everything again in court.

“I’ve spent five years keeping the campaign to find Tomkins going. I feel like it’s kept me going and alive. Now I feel strange and empty.”

She added; “I think I will finally be able to grieve for Rocky properly. I just wish he was still here.”

Freelander driver Christopher Pearman, of Waltham Abbey, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the murder and was jailed for life in 2006.He is serving a minimum 23-year sentence.

Tomkins denied murder.