Suffolk father's tribute to murdered son

A DISTRAUGHT father has spoken publicly for the first time about his son's brutal murder in a car-jacking in South Africa.Ted Toleman, a former powerboat champion and motor racing boss, told of his anguish at the death of Gary, 41, who was gunned down in a garage forecourt in Hazyview, two-and-a-half hours drive from Johannesburg.

A DISTRAUGHT father has spoken publicly for the first time about his son's brutal murder in a car-jacking in South Africa.

Ted Toleman, a former powerboat champion and motor racing boss, told of his anguish at the death of Gary, 41, who was gunned down in a garage forecourt in Hazyview, two-and-a-half hours drive from Johannesburg.

"He was a great son and I miss him like you can't believe," said Mr Toleman, 65, who lived in Gedding, near Stowmarket, for many years.

Gary, who, like his father and twin brother, Michael, was also a powerboat champion, was shot in the mouth 10 days ago, in front of his fiancée, by a gang of four men who stole his car.


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Mr Toleman, who has homes in Australia and the Phillipines, flew back to England yesterday and admitted he was coping "badly" after his son's death.

"It is such a tragedy, such a waste of a great person, to be murdered like that for nothing. It is a country governed by lawlessness and this is apartheid in reverse, if you know what I mean," he said.

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"The country is rife with crime and with Robert Mugabe murdering white farmers across the border, it is spreading into South Africa."

Mr Toleman added: "I don't know if we will ever find his killers. I have got personal lawyers ensuring the police do their job properly.

"I have got friends in the townships who are looking for them. If they find them they will be dealt with in the way they should be."

Mr Toleman hit the headlines in 1985 when his bid to become the fastest man to cross the Atlantic ended in disaster.

He was joined by Sir Richard Branson on the quest, who gave his backing to secure a place on the Virgin Atlantic Challenger.

But the £1.5 million vessel was smashed by a succession of huge waves as it raced towards the finishing line off the Scilly Isles.

Mr Toleman's entire family moved to South Africa 12 years ago to run a banana plantation but Michael and his family returned to live in Bacton, because of the rising violence in the country, as did Gary's ex-wife and their three children.

Ted Toleman and Gary stayed on, but Ted left South Africa in 1999 after the death of his wife, Dianna. He is now mainly retired, but is still involved in boat-building and consultancy work.

"Gary stayed in South Africa under very difficult circumstances. He tried very, very hard just to have a good life there," said Mr Toleman.

"I had a very good relationship with him. He was a great lad and a great sportsman. I loved him and I still love him. He has left a very big void, and he is with his mother now."

Mr Toleman, who also founded the Toleman Formula One Racing Team, which was sold off to Benetton, said he last visited Gary and his son's fiancée, Marlett Jordaan, a month ago.

"I was so pleased I had the chance to see him. I didn't see him as often as I should, but we kept in telephone contact and sent emails to each other."

He added: "I lived in South Africa for 10 years and the country itself is beautiful. I like the game parks.

"But when I first arrived you were told to wear a gun and, when you went out at night, you had to have a gun in the car. It's just the way the country is.

"It's not just my son, people are murdered every single day for their car."

Police in Nelspruit, South Africa, have admitted they have hit a stumbling block in investigating Gary Toleman's death.

They have said they will be relying heavily on informers to find the four car-jackers and, so far, have no leads to go on.

Officers found Mr Toleman's Vauxhall Vectra car after it was abandoned and have recovered the bullet from his body and a cartridge from the 9mm gun.

His funeral is being held at Lavenham Church at noon tomorrow

, followed by a reception at The Swan hotel.

An inquest into Mr Toleman's death was open and adjourned yesterday at Shire Hall, Bury St Edmunds.

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