Glasgow & West Scotland

Martin Toner murder trial: Accused gave lift to victim

Martin Toner Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Martin Toner's body was found in July 2004

The Martin Toner murder trial has heard that one of the accused gave him a lift to the area where his body was found on the day he went missing.

PC Fraser Spence said Douglas Fleming told him he dropped Mr Toner in Langbank on 29 June 2004 and that his "version" had seemed "well-rehearsed".

The body of Mr Toner, 34, was found in a field near Langbank on 13 July 2004

Mr Fleming, 50, and John McDonald, 57, both deny murdering him. The trial at the High Court in Glasgow continues.

Mr Fleming and Mr McDonald are alleged to have killed Mr Toner at the garden and grounds of the Coach House at Gleddoch Estate, Langbank, and Gleddoch Estate after inducing him to travel there from the Key to Life Gym in Pollokshields, Glasgow.

Police interview

Mr Toner's body was found dumped in a field near Langbank on 13 July 2004. He had been stabbed and his throat had been cut.

PC Spence told the court that he interviewed Mr Fleming, a former police officer and then company director of Paisley-based Delta Construction, five days after Mr Toner disappeared.

He told advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, that Mr Fleming said he had met Mr Toner in the Key to Life Gym at about 14:30 on 29 June 2004.

Mr Fleming said that he had gone to the gym around 14:00 to speak to one of the directors, John McDonald - his co-accused who was also known as Ian.

He said they had discussed possible renovations of the gym.

In the statement Mr Fleming said: "I was walking towards the exit when I happened to see Martin Toner. He said hello and came up towards me.

"It was just by pure coincidence he happened to be in the gym at the same time as me."

Mr Fleming stated that they walked out of the gym and stood chatting beside Mr Toner's silver Saab and added: "He had difficulty finding the keys to his car. He was searching for them, but he never seemed that bothered that he couldn't find his keys."

The former police officer then said that Mr Toner asked him for a lift.

He said Mr Toner got into his bright blue Mercedes G wagon, with a personalised plate, and drove from Glasgow to Langbank.

Phone conversation

Mr Fleming said that during the journey Mr Toner either made or received a phone call and said to the person on the other end: "I'll call you when I get to Bishopton," or "Call me when I get to Bishopton."

He told the jury that when he got to Main Street, Langbank, Mr Toner said: "Here's fine," and asked to be dropped there and indicated towards the railway line.

Mr Fleming said: "I just said, 'See you later.'"

Mr Fleming said he was unaware that Mr Toner was missing until he spoke to Mr Toner's wife Michelle a few days after his disappearance.

In the statement he added: "I had no reason to suspect he had any reason to disappear other than his forthcoming trial. Martin had associations with some dodgy people."

PC Spence was asked by Mr Prentice: "How did Mr Fleming appear," and he replied: "The version he gave me was well-rehearsed and when that version was challenged in any way he was very vague in relation to other circumstances."

Defence QC Derek Ogg said: "It would seem that Mr Fleming told this story more than once before you interviewed him. He told it to another police officer and he told Mrs Toner," and PC Spence replied: "That's correct."

The court heard that Mr Toner's car keys were found in a locker in the gym and handed in to reception.

Mr Fleming has lodged a special defence of incrimination against six men.

Both accused also deny a further charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

The trial before Lord Armstrong continues.

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