Killer’s pal speaks out after police raid on his home

Robert Taft
Robert Taft

A former cemetery worker jailed for helping a killer cover his tracks says he wants to move on with his life after police failed to find a murder weapon at his home following a raid last week.

A former cemetery worker jailed for helping a killer cover his tracks says he wants to move on with his life after police failed to find a murder weapon at his home following a raid last week.

Patricia Goodband

Patricia Goodband

Robert Taft, 61, was released from prison in December after being jailed for 10 months for perverting the course of justice in the case of Patricia Goodband’s murder.

But last week police turned up unannounced at his Westcott home acting on a tip-off that the murder weapon was there, along with other items belonging to Mrs Goodband.

The search failed to find anything of significance.

Taft, who is now a full-time carer for his wife, said: “I just felt numb, but at the end of the day the police had some new information and have to work on it. They just appeared, I had no warning because it doesn’t work like that, but they did offer for us to go away to a hotel while they were in the house.

“But I felt because I had nothing to hide we would stay. I actually think the police deserve praise because they have a difficult job to do.

“A few things were damaged during the search but the police said to get them some quotes and they will pay for the repairs.”

During the investigation into Mrs Goodband’s disappearance Taft told police he had dropped the wealthy pensioner off at Milton Keynes train station as a way for murderer Christopher Symons, of Aylesbury, to explain her disappearance.

But he said that the very next day, he went back to police and admitted to the lie. Symons was charged with murder soon afterwards and following a trial was jailed for 27 years.

Taft said he did not know Symons had murdered Mrs Goodband, who was found dumped down a well in her garden in Woodham and had been repeatedly struck around the head.

He said: “I knew nothing at all, I made a mistake and told a lie for a friend.

“It was the next morning that I rang the police and told them that I had lied, it wasn’t like they questioned me and I admitted it.

“The worst people in the whole situation have actually been the press, they gave my family hell when it first happened.”

Towards the end of his sentence he was at the same prison as Symons, but when asked how he felt about his old friend he did not want to comment.

Taft, who was sacked by Aylesbury Town Council for his role in the burying of 40 bin liners of asbestos in the Tring Road Cemetery in 2010, said of his conviction: “I’m 61 and have a clean driving licence, never had a point on it and this was my first ever offence.

“It is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

“That first night in prison was just horrendous, I don’t have the words to describe it, other than I just felt completely lost.

“I knew straight away that family and friends would look after my wife, but I think it was just as bad for her.

“In prison you are 
somewhere totally alien and ,to be quite honest, you just shut down. You kind of go into yourself.

“That’s what made it worse when the police came in for the search. I knew I had done nothing.

“But I really didn’t want to end up back in there.”

Taft has not been able to find a job since being released from prison, and is a full-time carer for his wife, who suffers from osteoarthritis and a chronic lung condition. The couple have two grown-up children.

He added: “We are now trying to rebuild a life together. I’m 61 and there are not a lot of job opportunities out there when you have a criminal record.”

Taft thanked his neighbours in King’s Close, 
Westcott, as well as friends and family for their faith in him.

He said: “We have had wonderful support from neighbours and friends.

“Obviously living in a 
village they know you, they know what sort of person you are.
“They have been behind us 100%.”