An Aylesbury man murdered his friend of 30 years for a £1 million fortune and dumped her body down a 12ft shaft in the grounds of her home, a court has heard.
Married father-of-three Christopher Symons, 63, spread a web of lies to cover his tracks after beating his 76-year-old business partner Patricia Goodband six times round the head with an unknown object last December, the prosecution said.
Police found the pensioner’s body on January 21 covered in plastic bags full of rubbish, soil and stones at the bottom of the abandoned drainage shaft in Woodham , near Waddesdon.
A jury at Reading Crown Court heard today that Mr Symons, of Thackeray End, convinced his sister, a lover and a friend to help him create a story that divorcee Miss Goodband had gone to visit her daughter in Yorkshire, all the while knowing she was dead. The court heard this was unlikely as she had bad relations with her daughter and hated travelling.
Joanna Glynn QC, prosecuting, told the court Mr Symons, who had previously beaten the pensioner, planned the murder in cold blood for financial gain.
Ms Glynn said: “What Christopher Symons did was callous, brutal and cruel in the extreme.
“It’s a very dark story that I’m going to tell you.”
In her will, Miss Goodband pledged to leave everything she owned to Mr Symons. This included the £600,000 Akeman House where her body was found, a £200,000 Edgcott property and £230,000 from bank accounts.
The prosecutor said Miss Goodband was very ‘emotionally attached’ to Mr Symons and in 1994 transferred joint ownership of the land at Akeman House to him ‘in consideration of the love and affection’ she had for him.
Mr Symons, who ran a road haulage business with Miss Goodband, would also spend nights sleeping at the house. Ms Glynn said: “This was not a normal friendship.”
Ms Glynn explained that after he killed Miss Goodband and hid the body, Mr Symons went about covering his tracks. She said: “It was in one way quite ingenious and in another extremely unsophisticated.”
It is alleged Mr Symons used a phone which he pretended was hers to send two texts to himself to make people believe she had gone away. The first was sent on December 18, four days before she is thought to have been killed, saying she had bought tickets for her trip to Yorkshire. The second was sent on December 22 saying she had arrived.
Ms Glynn also explained how Mr Symons convinced his lover, Jennifer Creasey, 73, from Benson, to write a Christmas card on January 6 alleging to be from a made-up friend of Miss Goodband’s to the victim. It was pre-dated to make it appear that it was written before the pensioner was murdered, saying her friend was looking forward to seeing her in Yorkshire.
The jury heard that Creasey was ‘devoted’ to Mr Symons and the two had a ‘passionate and sexual’ relationship.
Mr Symons also allegedly involved his sister, 74-year-old Kathleen Adams, of Princes Risborough, in the lie. Ms Glynn explained how she said to police that Miss Goodband had told her she was going to Yorkshire.
Mr Symons’ friend Robert Taft also told police he had driven Miss Goodband to Milton Keynes railway station on December 22 so she could go on her trip. However, the court heard that Taft later admitted he had lied about this.
Ms Glynn said: “Everything Christopher Symons said to the police about what happened to Patricia Goodband was a pack of lies.
“He used these people in order to cover his tracks.
“There is no possible explanation for this apart from the fact that Christopher Symons murdered her.”
The alarm was raised about Miss Goodband’s disappearance in early January when she failed to show up for her other job as a cleaner.
Mr Symons, who denies murder, appeared at the hearing via video link, with the jury being told he had fallen ill overnight.
Ms Adams denies one count of perverting the course of justice. Ms Creasey denies two counts of perverting the course of justice.
The trial continues.