'I just shut my eyes': Murder accused tells of moment he ran over victim

John Avers, 47, died in a car park in Whalebone Lane, Dagenham.

John Avers, 47, died in a car park in Whalebone Lane, Dagenham - Credit: Met Police

A man on trial for the murder of Dagenham businessman John Avers has described the moment when he "just shut his eyes" before running him over.

Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, Bobby Ternent spoke of the events that led to the death of "good friend" Mr Avers on September 13, 2020.

The 32-year-old - who is on trial alongside 59-year-old father Gary Ternent - said Mr Avers phoned him on September 13 to ask for the return of £40,000 he was looking after for the businessman.

In an earlier interview the younger Ternent had claimed this money was tied to drugs.

Following this alleged phone call, the pair picked up Mr Avers before driving to the Iceland car park in Whalebone Lane South where the latter lost his life.

The younger Ternent, who who was born and brought up in Harold Wood, claimed Mr Avers started screaming at him that the "money was short", proceeding to threaten the lives of his wife and six children.

Cross-examining him, prosecutor William Emlyn Jones QC, said: "So you're in the car. Mr Avers is in the back.

"He's already lost it. He's screaming. Did you think to sit in the relative safety of the car and just have a sensible conversation about it?"

"What with my back to him?," asked Mr Ternent.

"Were you saying: 'I haven't taken any of the money'? That would be the obvious thing to say wouldn't it, if any of this were true?"

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The 32-year-old said they "didn't get a chance for that".

Mr Emlyn Jones QC said the younger Ternent "yanked him out of the car" and "started to beat him up".

CCTV footage of the altercation was played to the court, about which the prosecutor asked: "Do you agree you quickly had the upper hand in the fight?"

"After a bit of a struggle yeah," replied Mr Ternent. 

"Let's be blunt about it [Mr] Ternent; you were on top of Mr Avers on the ground, holding him down," said the QC. 

The 32-year-old said: "He had hold of my throat. I had hold of his throat."

Further questioning saw him admit to keeping Mr Avers on the ground, to kicking him in the head, and to punching him a couple of times.

"We were fighting. I was in a state. I was in a rage. I'm not denying it," said Mr Ternent.

The court was then played footage of the younger Ternent getting back into the car - which he said he had "no recollection of".

This claim was disputed by the prosecutor. 

"There was a moment when you and your father were side by side at John Avers' body on the ground.

"At the same time we can still hear John Avers groaning or crying out in pain can't we," said the QC.

"You'd hurt him badly hadn't you Mr Ternent. You'd given him an absolute battering. At that point did John Avers pose you any threat?," he asked. 

He replied: "No."

"I just lost it at that point. I see red," he added.

More footage was shown of the younger Ternent positioning his car until it was facing Mr Avers on the ground, alongside his father who is accused of holding him down. 

"You have the headlights on them. You could see them in front of you," said Mr Emlyn Jones. 

"I can't really remember much of that. I just shut my eyes," he replied.  

"This is the moment when you in cold blood ran Mr Avers over. You agree I'm sure Mr Ternent that the unavoidable consequence over of running Mr Avers with that massive car would be to cause him at least very serious injuries.

"That's the obvious yeah," he said.  

"And you didn't have your eyes shut did you Mr Ternent. You weren't going to risk running your father over were you."

Repeating how he saw "red", the 32-year-old said: "I wasn't thinking clearly was I. I wouldn't just do that."

The prosecutor accused the defendant of making sure he ran over Mr Avers "again and again and again".

"This was calculated wasn't it?," asked the QC.

"No," he replied.

Both men, of Movers Lane in Barking, deny murder.

The trial continues.