In the Media

Ian Tomlinson: 'a brilliant dad whose life took downward spiral'

PUBLISHED July 19, 2012

Born in Matlock, Derbyshire, he moved to London as a 17-year-old and worked as a scaffolder and as a roofer.

He married mother-of-five Julia Williams in 1991, set up home on the Isle of Dogs and had four daughters with her.

Paul King, one of his five stepchildren, said: "To convince someone else's kids that he is good enough to be their dad takes a lot. We idolised him."

Tomlinson, described as a "brilliant dad" by his wife, had the names of his nine children and stepchildren, now aged 18 to 35, tattooed on his fingers.

But his marriage began to falter under the strain of his heavy drinking, and the couple eventually split up as a result.

He had been homeless for 13 years by the time of his death, and had been living in the Lindsey Hotel hostel, where he had been hoping to beat his drinking habit and make a fresh start with his family.

"He would not harm a fly," said Winston Joseph, one of his friends.

"He would not hurt anybody. He split up with his wife but he was a good father. He looked after his family financially."

Barry Smith, who knew him for 26 years, described him as "like a brother" and said he loved working as a newspaper seller in the City, even buying cups of tea for office workers who knew him as Tommo.

His other passion in life was Millwall FC, the team whose shirt he was wearing at the time he died.

"He was always truthful and had respect for anyone," said another of his friends. "He would always get in the middle if someone else was in a fight. He didn't even really swear."

Julia Tomlinson still wears her wedding ring to this day, and told the inquest into her husband's death that although they lived apart, "we loved each other and neither of us wanted to separate or remarry".