Father shot dead in car-jacking

A FATHER-of-three from a well-known Suffolk family has been brutally gunned down and killed in a horrific car jacking in South Africa.Gary Toleman, 41, formerly from Gedding, was murdered in cold blood in front of his terrified fiancée after being dragged from his pick-up vehicle by a gang of four men.

A FATHER-of-three from a well-known Suffolk family has been brutally gunned down and killed in a horrific car jacking in South Africa.

Gary Toleman, 41, formerly from Gedding, was murdered in cold blood in front of his terrified fiancée after being dragged from his pick-up vehicle by a gang of four men.

The appalling crime happened in the small community of Hazy View, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Johannesburg, at around 9pm on Monday.

Last night, Mr Toleman's twin brother Michael told the East Anglian Daily Times of the family's shock and devastation at the murder.


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"It was just an absolutely senseless killing," he said. "Gary did not put up a fight and he gave them the keys to his car – but they shot him anyway.

"It seems to just be the way things are out there. It has come as a massive shock to the whole family."

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The tragedy unfolded after Gary and his fiancée Marlett pulled into a petrol station and were followed by four men in a Blue Vauxhall Vectra.

"Marlett went into the garage to buy a loaf of bread while Gary stayed in the car," said Michael, who lives in Bacton.

"Two men got out of the Vectra, dragged Gary from the car, put him over the bonnet and insisted on the keys being handed over, which Gary did.

"I believe a warning shot was fired because Marlett came running out of the garage. By that time, they had the gun in Gary's mouth.

"Marlett shouted 'please don't, please don't', but they shot him anyway. After the gang had taken Gary's car the immobiliser kicked in just down the road and the vehicle was abandoned.

"It was a totally needless and incredibly cold-blooded killing."

The Toleman family are well known in Suffolk – both Gary and Michael are former powerboat champions, as was their father Ted.

And Ted hit the headlines in 1985 after he was caught up in a dramatic rescue effort as his bid to become the fastest man across the Atlantic – backed financially by Sir Richard Branson – ended in disaster.

His £1.5 million Virgin Atlantic Challenger was smashed by a succession of huge waves and debris as it raced towards the finishing line off the Scilly Isles.

Ted also founded the Toleman Formula One Racing Team, which launched the career of legendary Brazillian driver Ayrton Senna, before it was sold to Benetton.

Ten years ago the whole family moved to South Africa to run a banana plantation, but Michael and his family returned because of the escalating violence in the country.

Gary's ex-wife Penny and his three children Alexander, 18, Paul, 16, and Kara, 14, also returned and now live near Colchester.

"Gary loved South Africa but he was torn between his fiancée and his children," said Michael. "He came back as often as he could to see the kids.

"I know he was worried about the violence out there but he seemed to deal with it better than I could.

"Over there, anything can happen at any time – you always have to look over your shoulder. It is an increasing dangerous country to live in and guns are readily available.

"I wouldn't go back to South Africa if you paid me –there is no regard for life in some parts of the country."

The investigation into Gary's brutal killing has now been transferred from Hazy View to the CID at nearby Nelspruit, a larger town with a bigger police force.

"The British Consulate and Embassy have got involved as well and they've been marvellous," added Michael.

"After Gary was killed, police helicopters went up and managed to get the number plate of the Vectra in which the assailants were driving.

"The police say they have got leads. We've also been told they have found the bullet which killed Gary, so that can be used for forensics – they just need to find the gun.

"I hope that they will catch them and bring them to justice."

The family hope to fly Gary's body back to England this weekend, and plan to hold his funeral at the church in Lavenham where he was married and his children were christened, next Friday.

"We are trying to get Marlett over for the funeral," Michael said. "She actually saw it happen so she is devastated.

"She is finding it very hard to deal with, as we all are. Gary was a caring, loving individual who loved life, and he always wanted to make sure the people around him were ok.

"It was just such a senseless killing."

An inquest into Gary's death will be held both in South Africa and Suffolk, although no dates have been set.

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