A dad and his son have been jailed for life after callously murdering a family friend by pinning him down in an Iceland car park and repeatedly driving over him. Bobby Ternent, 32, and Gary Ternent, 59, both of Barking, had organised to meet John, 47, on the evening of September 13, 2020 in Dagenham, before taking him to the quiet supermarket car park.
After a brief confrontation, they beat him and deliberately ran over him four times before leaving him for dead with a number of serious injuries. Despite the best efforts of paramedics, he was tragically pronounced dead at the scene, with 22 out of 24 of his ribs fractured and injuries to his heart and liver.
Appearing today for sentencing at the Old Bailey, the Ternents were jailed for life after they were both found guilty by a jury earlier this year. The court had heard that the two had met with former friend John shortly before 11:30pm in Wood Lane, and Bobby had driven him in a silver BMW X6 with Gary in the front passenger seat.
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(Image: Met Police)
After a few hundred yards, they came to the Iceland car park and CCTV showed an alercation between Bobby and John. After the 47-year-old was dragged to the floor, Gary got into the driving seat and attempted to reverse it.
For some reason, he was unable to move it and dad and son switched places, with Bobby quickly turning the BMW around to face Gary, who was by now holding down the already injured John. He then drove directly towards them, allowing his dad to momentarily step away whilst John was run over.
The eldest Ternent then watched as the car turned around and drove over John again, before coming to a halt. Rather than fleeing the scene, Gary then climbed into the front passenger seat and they drove over their former friend a third and fourth time. They then sped away and left John for dead.
Police officers and paramedics were alerted to the incident after receiving a number of 999 calls from local resident who had heard John’s desperate screams for help. They rushed to the car park in Walebone Lane South, arriving about five minutes after the Ternents had driven away. One resident told officers: “I couldn’t believe what I saw next and I still can’t believe that anyone would do that to someone,” after seeing the Ternents deliberately run over the family man four times.
It became immediately apparent that John had suffered a number of very serious injuries, and despite the best efforts of officers, the London Ambulance Service and the London’s Air Ambulance, he was pronounced dead at 12.22am on September 14, 2020.
A post-mortem examination found that he had been crushed by the car and had suffered fractures to his skull, sternum, pelvis and left-thigh bone. His rib fractures had resulted in six penetrating wounds to his lungs and he had also suffered injuries to his liver and heart. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Ternents had driven home but had not immediately returned inside.
Bobby took off his shorts and put on trousers and removed his shoes. His dad then carried his shoes in the house while he drove the car a short way down the road before setting it alight. He then walked home in his socks. A subsequent police investigation found that the silver BMW X6 had been acquired by Bobby a month before and had false number plates.
Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command reviewed hours of CCTV footage which had captured the murder and arrested Bobby on September 18 after they stopped his vehicle on the M2 near Gravesend. His dad was arrested the next day at a guesthouse in Southend-on-Sea whilst with his wife. Police discovered that he had arrived at the guest house the day after the murder and had asked for a room for two nights, before asking to extend their stay.
During their police interviews, Gary answered no comment to all questions, but Bobby admitted to running over John. He said that he and John had been very good friends and that he had worked for him, and claimed that three weeks before the murder, John had asked him to look after £40,000 of stolen drug money. He told detectives that he had agreed and had kept the cash in his car, and on the day of the murder, John had called and said he needed the money immediately.
John was a “much-loved” father of two daughters and had been a “good friend” to the Ternents. He had run a successful carpentry business and, over 10 years, sometimes given them both work. Previously, he ran a sash windows carpentry company but after his business went downhill and his marriage fell apart, he had turned to drink and drugs, the court was told.
Bobby said that they had met in the supermarket car park but John had started to scream that the money was short and they had gotten into a fight. He claimed that John had started threatening him and had said he would kill his wife and children if he was not given the missing money.
He said that he had taken the threat seriously and had panicked, before deciding to drive over John’s legs to stop him getting up. As his defence, Bobby claimed he had not seen his dad hold John down and denied running over him deliberately a third and fourth times. With regards to the money, he told officers he had thrown the £40,000 out of the car as he drove away, and admitted to setting the car on fire.
However, the jury disagreed with this account and the two men were found guilty of murder. Judge Anne Molyneux, during sentencing, said: “This was a ruthless execution, without mercy, of a helpless man. It was a sustained and violent attack. His pain and anguish are immeasurable.”
“There was significant mental and physical suffering inflicted upon Mr Avers before he died. He cried out in pain and begged for help when Bobby Ternent, encouraged by Gary Ternent, attacked him. He was unable to move, was held down by Gary Ternent and watched in horror as Bobby Ternent drove at him.
“It was not possible for the pathologist to establish the order of his many injuries or determine which of them was fatal. However, even assuming that he lost consciousness after the first time you ran him over, the terror of the impending impact which he was helpless to escape is an aggravating factor.”
In a statement read to the court, John’s family said: “When we got the knock on the door our lives changed forever. The pain we felt being told that John had died and the way he died was heart breaking.
“We think and talk about John every day. He was a good dad and I know he loved his girls unconditionally. They have taken something from them that can never be replaced, their dad. There will be so many mile stones and achievements that he will miss from their lives but he will always be held close in our hearts and our memories.
“Our hearts are broken and I’m not sure we will ever feel the same again. The pain in our hearts is something we can’t describe. People say time is great healer, I hope this is true. John was loved by so many people, still is and always will be.”
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers, the senior investigating officer from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “What Bobby and Gary did to their supposed good friend was nothing short of a cold and calculated execution. John was already lying defenceless on the floor after being attacked by Bobby, 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 absolutely barbaric.
“Their heinous crime was absolutely shocking and extremely distressing for those who witnessed it and for John’s loved ones, who not only had to listen to the harrowing evidence given in court, but will have to live knowing the cruelty of what John endured in his final moments.
“This has been an extremely difficult time for John’s family and friends, but I hope the fact that the Ternents are now starting a lengthy stint behind bars will help to give them a small measure of comfort and closure.”
Both were jailed for life with Bobby to serve a minimum of 25 years and Gary to serve a minimum of 23 years.
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