A father and son have been found guilty of murdering their friend after pinning him down and running over him in an Iceland car park.
Gary Ternent, 59, from Barking, had pinned Mr Avers to the ground whilst his son, Bobby Ternent, 32, ran over John Avers, from Dagenham, four times with a BMW.
Mr Alvers’ family sat in the court and were visibly emotional as the verdict was read aloud at the Old Bailey today (Friday, January 28).
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The Ternents arranged to meet their friend John Avers, 47, on the evening of September 13, 2020 in Dagenham, before driving him to the quiet supermarket car park on Whalebone Lane South.
Bobby then got out of the car and opened the rear driver’s side door where John was sitting. There was an altercation between the two men before John was pulled away from the car and onto the ground by Bobby.
It is at this point that Gary then got out of the car and got into the driving seat.
CCTV captured Bobby crouching over John while Gary attempted to reverse the car, but for some reason he was unable to move it. The father and son then switched places, John was unable to get to his feet during this time – with the prosecution arguing he was probably already badly hurt at this point.
Bobby had no trouble getting the car to move and he quickly turned it around so it was facing his father, who was holding John down, preventing him from getting up.
Bobby then drove straight towards them pausing momentarily to allow his father to step back out of the car’s path. John was unable to do the same.
Then, as Gary stood and watched, Bobby turned the car around and drove directly over John again, before screeching to a halt. Gary moved swiftly and got back into the car. However, instead of fleeing the scene, they drove over John a third and fourth time.
Satisfied they had done enough, they left John dead or dying in a dark, quiet car park and drove home.
When they arrived home, they did not head inside. Instead, Bobby took off his shorts and put on trousers and removed his shoes. His father carried Bobby’s shoes into the house while he drove the car a short way down the road before setting fire to it and abandoning it. He then walked home in his socks. The car, which Bobby acquired about a month before, was on false plates in a bid for it not to be traced back to him.
Meanwhile, officers raced to the scene after receiving 999 calls from distressed residents who could hear the sound of John’s screams.
One resident told officers that he thought they were just trying to scare someone and would stop.
He added: “I couldn’t believe what I saw next and I still can’t believe that anyone would do that to someone.”
He watched in horror as John was run over four times.
Officers arrived about five minutes after the Ternents left and found John in a large pool of blood, it was immediately obvious that he had suffered a large number of very serious injuries.
Despite the best efforts of officers, the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance, John was pronounced dead at the scene at 12.22am on September 14, 2020.
A post-mortem examination ruled that John died having suffered many fractures to his skull, sternum, pelvis and his left-thigh bone. Some 22 of his 24 ribs were fractured and also resulted in six separate penetrating wounds to his lungs. He also had injuries to his heart and liver.
Bobby was arrested on September 18, 2020 after officers acted on intelligence and stopped a vehicle on the M2 near Gravesend, which was being driven by his girlfriend.
Gary was arrested on September 19, 2020 at a guest house in Southend-on-Sea. Detectives discovered that on 14 September 2020 – the day after the murder – Gary and his wife arrived at the guest house without booking and asked for a room for two nights, which Gary paid for in cash. They then asked to extend their stay until September 21.
Gary answered no comment to all questions during his police interview, but Bobby did answer questions and even admitted running over John.
Bobby told detectives that he and John were very good friends and that he had worked for him for years. About three weeks before the murder, Bobby claimed John called him and asked him to look after £40,000 of stolen drug money for him. Bobby said he agreed and kept the cash in his car.
Bobby said that on the day of the murder John called and said he needed the money immediately, so they met and drove to the supermarket car park. Bobby then said that John started to scream that the money was short and they got into a fight.
He told detectives that John was threatening him and said if he did not give him the missing money he would kill his wife and children.
Bobby said he took the threat seriously and when he saw John on the ground, he panicked, got in the car and tried to drive over his legs to stop him getting up. He said he thought he missed so he ran over him again. He said he did not see his father holding John down and denied running over him a third and fourth time.
Bobby told officers he threw the £40,000 out of the car as he drove away because he was scared. He admitted setting the car on fire and that he changed into trousers – although he said he did this because he was cold.
The jury disagreed with Bobby’s account and heard that John was not a ‘big time villain,’ but that he had in fact been a successful businessman in his day, owning a company that specialised in sash windows.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers, the senior investigating officer from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “This was nothing short of a cold and calculated execution. What Bobby and Gary did to their supposed good friend was absolutely shocking and was extremely distressing for those who witnessed it and those who have had to watch the graphic CCTV.
“John was already lying defenceless on the floor, there is absolutely no excuse that can justify holding him down and then running him over not once, not twice, but four times. It is barbaric.
“I am pleased that the jury agreed with the overwhelming evidence we collected against Bobby and Gary and found them both guilty of murder. It has been a very difficult time for John’s family and friends but I hope the fact that the Ternents now face a lengthy stint behind bars helps give them a small measure of comfort and closure.”
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Prosecutor Bill-Emlyn Jones QC had told an Old Bailey jury: “Shortly after 11:30pm on Sunday, September 13, 2020, a man named John Avers was walking along Wood Lane in Dagenham.
“He was passed by a BMW X6, which stopped next to him – Mr Avers got into the back seat of the car. In the minutes immediately beforehand, Mr Avers had been in telephone contact with the driver of that large BMW, so this was obviously not a chance meeting.
“The driver of the car was Bobby Ternent. Sitting next to him, in the front passenger seat, was his father, Gary Ternent.
“When I tell you what happened next, your first reaction will probably be to think I must be making it up. But I am not making it up.
“What happened in the Iceland car park is that Bobby and Gary Ternent murdered John Avers murdered John Avers by deliberately driving that BMW X6 straight at him, running him over.”
The Crown had argued that the two had been “acting together” to perform the act and that their intention was to cause Mr Avers serious harm.
A graphic CCTV video had been shown to jurors which had shown Mr Avers on the ground, screaming for help, whilst the car sped up to drive over him.
They will now be sentenced on February 8 at the Old Bailey.
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