Lover of Southsea man who died of overdose starts a new life in Sydney amid claims of drugged sex scandal

THE boyfriend of a man who died of a drug overdose wiped his phone before handing it to police amid claims he had recorded a ‘degrading’ video of himself sexually assaulting his unconscious lover, a court has heard.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 10:22 am
Phillip Gazzard arriving at Portsmouth Coroner's Court before giving evidence in the case of the death of Thomas Toomer (jpns 150621-)
Phillip Gazzard arriving at Portsmouth Coroner's Court before giving evidence in the case of the death of Thomas Toomer (jpns 150621-)

Phillip Gazzard, 53, remains at the centre of a mystery over how his lover, Thomas Toomer, came to die on the night of December 1.

The 33-year-old was found naked and unresponsive in Mr Gazzard’s flat in Yarborough Road, Southsea – little more than three months after meeting his older lover on gay dating app Grindr.

A post-mortem examination of Mr Toomer found he died of mixed drug intoxication, caused by a lethal cocktail of the date-rape drug GHB – nicknamed ‘G’, crystal meth and Diazapan.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Phillip Gazzard arriving at Portsmouth Coroner's Court before giving evidence in the case of the death of Thomas Toomer

No criminal charges have been brought against anyone following Mr Toomer’s death after a police investigation stalled due to a lack of evidence and Mr Gazzard has since moved back to his native home in Sydney, Australia.

However, during the inquest into Mr Toomer’s death, friends told Portsmouth Coroner’s Court the ‘trapped’ lover had discovered a video of himself on Mr Gazzard’s phone of him being sexually assaulted while unconscious and that he had planned to break up with him.

Jamie Richardson, who was a close friend of Mr Toomer having gone through drug rehabilitation together, told the court how Tom had confided in him about the video.

‘He described himself as being unconscious, ‘ he told the court. ‘He said the phone was put up at a high point and Mr Gazzard performed sexual acts on him and proceeding to come up to the camera, grinning with his thumbs up.

‘Tom said it made him feel sick and disgusted. It absolutely wasn’t consensual. It alarmed Tom.

Mr Toomer’s former lover and long-time friend Callum Finnegan also gave evidence claiming to have been shown the video.

Detective Sergeant Marcus Mills, who was called in to investigate the death, said he had requested information on whether Gazzard had any past criminal convictions.

During this search, it was revealed that police had been monitoring Gazzard’s activities in Bournemouth – a place he had visited just days before Mr Toomer’s death on a ‘drugs binge’ – since May 2019.

Det Sgt Mills said: ‘Intelligence from Dorset Police was received that suggested that Gazzard and an associate regularly held gay sex parties in Bournemouth.

‘A drug known as “G” was consumed either in liquid form or injected which would cause the user to be unresponsive for a period of time and that during this state of unresponsiveness, Gazzard and his associate would then perform sexual acts on those males as well as recording it.’

He added that Mr Gazzard had voluntarily handed his phone into police days later but that it had been wiped, with no evidence found on it to back up claims made by family and friends.

The inquest heard that Mr Gazzard had called emergency services at 8.58pm after finding his partner cold and not breathing.

Paramedics arrived at 9.10pm and desperately fought to revive Mr Toomer. But he was pronounced dead at 10,01pm.

Giving his evidence during the inquest, Mr Gazzard insisted he had not given his partner any drugs – although he did admit the drugs found in Mr Toomer’s system were in his flat.

He claimed he had been exhausted from a drugs binge a few days before and that Thomas was sleeping next to him when he woke briefly at about 4pm.

Mr Gazzard then described waking up just before 9pm and finding Mr Toomer cold and unresponsive.

Panicked, Mr Gazzard said he took some crystal meth to ‘give him a boost’ as he still felt ‘woozy’ before calling emergency services and then carrying out first aid.

Recounting the tragedy, the former dog trainer said: ‘I was in a frenzy trying to get the emergency services.’

Mr Gazzard insisted that Thomas must have left his flat to see a friend or visit Hampshire Boulevard while he was asleep and taken drugs there.

But Det Sgt Marcus Mills said there was no evidence of Mr Toomer captured on CCTV or at the club to show this.

‘Whether Tom took this drug by himself or was given it by Gazzard, the only information available regarding this is from Gazzard himself,’ he said, adding: ‘The family is aware that any criminal proceedings are highly remote. Tom was clearly a consenting adult who was in a relationship with Gazzard .

‘Any criminal acts against him, while unconscious, have never been disclosed or reported to police.

‘Even if the inference or information from the family... that Gazzard had previously supplied Tom drugs, that had rendered him unconscious in order for Gazzard to engage in any sexual act on Tom, there is very little prospect of this ever being proven.’

Recording a narrative conclusion, Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp added: ‘I’m extremely sorry that Tom died and I do think that on balance he would be here today had he not met Mr Gazzard.

‘Mr Gazzard I hope very much that now that you have got a new start in Australia you will think and reflect on the events surrounding the death of Tom Toomer. ‘