Stephen Tompkinson’s partner’s mother and stepfather were killed in …
Stephen Tompkinson's partner wrote 'I hope there's a heaven, I really need there to be one' in tribute to mother and stepfather killed in crash by sex-obsessed trucker - a family tragedy only revealed by the actor on live TV today
Actor Stephen Tompkinson's partner wrote 'I hope there's a heaven, I really need there to be one' in an emotional tribute to her mother and stepfather who were killed in a crash by a sexting lorry driver.
DCI Banks star Tompkinson, 57, only revealed the family tragedy today during his first interview since being accused of punching a drunk man outside his home in the early hours of May 30, 2021.
Speaking on ITV's Lorraine this morning, Tompkinson described his partner Jessica Johnson as a 'shining light' who looked after him when he was accused of punching Karl Poole in the head after finding him and a friend drinking at the bottom of his driveway in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear.
Tompkinson, who was cleared as cleared of causing grievous bodily harm at Newcastle Crown Court last week, said his trial was put into perspective by Jess's family tragedy, which took place just six weeks after his altercation.
'Jess was amazing,' he said. 'And frankly, my problems went into a top hat six weeks later when Jess's parents were sitting in stationary traffic in Durham.'
Actor Stephen Tompkinson (pictured with partner) revealed today that his partner Jess
David Daglish and Elaine Sullivan, Ms Johnson's stepfather and mother, were killed in July 2021 when Ion Onut ploughed into stationary traffic
Lorry driver Ion Onut was jailed for more than eight years at Durham Crown Court in January 2022 after he ploughed into stationary traffic on the A1(M) and instantly killed three people – David Daglish, Elaine Sullivan and Paul Mullen – in July 2021.
Mr Daglish was Johnson's stepfather and Ms Sullivan was Johnson's mother.
The crash, which saw his lorry burst into flames and career a further 320ft along the road, came moments after he was looking at the adult dating site 'S**g Today'.
Onut later agreed to be interviewed in prison as part of a BBC documentary titled Deadly Browsing: The Lorry Driver which aired in July 2022 – and he apologised to the bereaved families.
Fellow actress Jess, Tompkinson's co-star in a successful stage adaptation of Educating Rita, spoke of the family's struggle in social media posts and set up a fundraising page in the couple's memory.
In an Instagram post days after the accident she wrote: 'Mam and Dave I'm sorry I never got to say goodbye. I hope there's a heaven. I really need there to be one.'
Jess, who trained at the National Youth Theatre before starring across TV, film and predominantly theatre, has raised £3,015 to date for the Seaham Eastlea and District Community Association.
In her GoFundMe appeal, Jess wrote: 'Our Mam, Elaine Sullivan and Step Dad, Dave Daglish died suddenly and tragically a couple of weeks ago. It's been, and continues to be a struggle as we try to come to terms with the loss but we need to find some light, something positive to focus on. We'd love your help!
Onut (pictured) was jailed for eight years and 10 months at Durham Crown Court in January 2022 after admitting three counts of causing death by dangerous driving
Jess Johnson (pictured with Stephen Tompkinson for Educating Rita) wrote 'I hope there's a heaven, I really need there to be one' in an emotional tribute to her mother and stepfather after they were killed
Tompkinson thanked his partner Jess (pictured) for supporting him during his trial while she was dealing with the death of her mother and stepfather
'Our parents, they were pillars of the community, from running local CREE and Women's groups, supporting people in the community going through mental health issues, to making and delivering food parcels to those in need throughout COVID-19.
'We don't want their hard work, and the work of the centres to diminish in their absence, so we have set up this fundraiser 'Our House' - Raising money to assure that Eastlea Community Centre and the groups they volunteered for continue long into the future and allow them to keep up the amazing work!
'If you are in a position to donate, you may fund a day out for the men's or women's group in their name. You may contribute to the making and delivery of food parcels for those in need. What I can guarantee is that you'll make a difference, in the name of two wonderful people who's legacy will live on.
'We want to give back to the community that we know my Mam and Dave loved so much. Giving so much more than just their free time!'
During the lorry driver's trial, the judge told the 41-year-old that it would have been bad enough if he had fallen asleep, but Onut had been trawling the internet for sexual partners.
Onut had been looking sites S**g Today and Mystic Match and had spent almost £50 to buy credits to engage with users, and was looking at profiles and editing his own over a period of 40 minutes leading up to the smash.
His last interaction on his phone was in the seconds before the collision and he was 'utterly oblivious' to the stationary vehicles ahead, the court was told at the time.
Onut, 41, did not brake before driving into the line of traffic at 58mph.
DCI Banks star Stephen Tompkinson spoke about his trial on ITV's Lorraine this morning
Stephen Tompkinson leaves Newcastle Crown Court on May 11 after he was found not guilty
Karl Poole leaves Newcastle Crown Court on May 11, after Tompkinson was found not guilty
Tompkinson has had a number of major television roles, including playing DCI Alan Banks
He later apologised to the bereaved families. From jail, he wept and acknowledged he could have travelled several hundred yards while looking at his phone. Onut said: 'The phone was a distraction, it was a really bad choice.'
Asked if he had a message for the bereaved families, he sighed and replied: 'There's a million things I could tell people. I want to apologise. I want to say I'm really sorry, because I feel really bad for what happened.'
Tompkinson credited Jess with inspiring him to get through the ordeal with her 'incredible' attitude after the crash.
He explained that the pair were performing Educating Rita at the time and because it had been 'stopped a couple of times' during Covid, Ms Johnson decided to continue performing.
'She went into this incredible mode, I don't know how she did it and a few weeks later attended the double funeral of her mum, stepdad and was then back on stage that night in Kingston-upon-Thames,' he added.
'So if you ever needed an example of strength and a shining light, she has been that throughout and looked after me through this.
'I'll never be able to thank her enough.'
- ^ Arthur Parashar (www.dailymail.co.uk)
- ^ Stephen Tompkinson (www.dailymail.co.uk)
- ^ ITV (www.dailymail.co.uk)
- ^ Tompkinson described his partner Jessica Johnson as a 'shining light' (www.dailymail.co.uk)
- ^ Lorry driver Ion Onut was jailed for more than eight years at Durham Crown Court in January 2022 (www.dailymail.co.uk)