Heartbroken brother of Southsea man who died of drug overdose slams sibling's ex-lover for ruining family's life

THE brother of a Southsea man who died of a drug overdose has laid the blame at the feet of his sibling’s former lover and said: ‘He would still be alive if he hadn’t met you’.

By Tom Cotterill
Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 4:55 am
Unmasked: Phillip Gazzard, formerly of Southsea, arrives at Portsmouth Coroner's Court before giving evidence in the case of the death of Thomas Toomer (jpns 150621-)
Unmasked: Phillip Gazzard, formerly of Southsea, arrives at Portsmouth Coroner's Court before giving evidence in the case of the death of Thomas Toomer (jpns 150621-)

An inquest into the death of Thomas Toomer heard the recovering drug addict had been like a ‘moth drawn to a flame’ and had been ‘manipulated’ by his ex-partner, Phillip Gazzard, through a ‘facade of charm’.

The five-day hearing – spread over two weeks – heard that ‘within days of meeting’ the self-professed drug addict and lover of ‘chemsex parties' in August 2019, Mr Toomer had relapsed. He died weeks later on December 1, 2019 at Mr Gazzard’s flat in Yarborough Road, Southsea.

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Phillip Gazzard pictured striding through Guildhall Square on his way to give evidence at the five-day inquest into the death of his former partner, Thomas Toomer.

It was a tragedy that shocked Mr Toomer’s family and friends, who spoke passionately about his inspirational recovery, which prior to meeting Mr Gazzard had seen him being sober for 13 months and acting as a shining light for other recovering addicts across the south east.

Despite Mr Gazzard’s flat containing all the drugs found to have killed Mr Toomer, an investigation into the 53-year-old was dropped by Hampshire police due to ‘insufficient evidence’, the court heard. Mr Gazzard has since jetted off to his native Australia on a one-way ticket to begin a new life in Sydney.

But before the former dog trainer left the country, Mr Toomer’s heartbroken older brother, Jack Toomer, delivered a scathing critique to Mr Gazzard at a hearing in Portsmouth Coroner’s Court.

In an emotional speech, Mr Toomer told Mr Gazzard: ‘May you know that you are entirely responsible for the death of Thomas Toomer.

‘May this stay with you for every waking moment for the rest of life. May you know that we, Tom’s family and those who love him have no forgiveness for you.

‘You have taken a son from his mother and his father, you have taken a brother from his five siblings, you have taken a loyal friend and a beloved uncle.

‘You will never have to explain to those nieces and nephews what happened to uncle Tom. You will never have to answer their impossible questions and wipe away their tears.

‘Above all, may you never get the chance to get close enough to another vulnerable young man.

‘May you never cause destruction, humiliation and pain through a facade of charm and care.

‘May you never have the opportunity to derail a precious life in the most depraved and inhumane way purely for your own gratification.

‘We, Tom’s family leaves here today with heavy hearts but we will be forever proud of his attempts to turn his life around.

‘We have no doubt he would be alive now if he had not met you.

‘His memory will live on and help us come to terms with what you did.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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