An Aylesbury man accused of murdering his friend of 30 years phoned her only child and urged her to report her mother as missing, a jury heard today.
Emotional Samantha McLoughlin said that news of her mother’s mysterious disappearance was broken to her by Christopher Symons, 63, in a distressing phone call.
He told her he had dropped her 76-year-old mother Patricia Goodband off at a train station to visit a friend called Sue, who lived up north.
This was just before Christmas last year and Mrs Goodband, of Woodham, near Waddesdon, had not been seen since.
Ms McLoughlin and Mr Symons, of Thackeray End, kept in regular phone contact, until, to her amazement, he was arrested for murdering her mother two weeks later.
When police told her an unnamed man had been arrested on suspicion of murder, Ms McLoughlin asked detectives if she could let Mr Symons know of the crucial development, not realising he was the man in custody.
Mrs Goodband’s body was found down a 12ft deep brick-lined shaft in the back garden of her £1million gated home, following an extensive search by police after she disappeared.
Her body had been covered with soil, stones and bags of rubbish.
She had been beaten around the head at least six times, Reading Crown Court was told.
Mrs Goodband was last seen alive on December 22. She was reported missing by her daughter on January 9, and found dead on January 21.
A police search team of more than 20 officers, backed by tracker dogs and a helicopter, had been drafted in to search Mrs Goodband’s home.
Today, mother-of-two Ms McLoughlin, a nurse, told the jury: “I’ve known Chris for a number of years as a friend of my mum and as her business partner.
“It was Chris who told me to report her missing.
“He said I had to do this (with the police force) in her area, so Thames Valley.
“We spoke on the phone every day since January 4.
“I last spoke to him on Saturday (January 12) afternoon. There was an answer phone message asking if I could ring him.
“I rang him back after I had spoken to police, which I told him about.
“I can’t recall if I spoke to him on Sunday (January 13) but I had a call on Sunday night from police to say they had arrested two people for the murder of my mother, perverting the course of justice and concealing a body.
“So I asked if he could tell me who was arrested, but he wouldn’t at this stage.
“So I said ‘OK would it be alright to phone my mum’s business partner to tell him and let him know’.
“The chap then paused and said ‘I may as well tell you then Chris and another chap were arrested’.”
Ms McLoughlin said she had not seen her estranged mother for five years, but would speak on the phone every two months.
“Mum never went anywhere on her own,” she told the jury.
“She never seemed to enjoy going very far.
“I had tried to persuade her about trying to come up to visit me on the train and mapped out the route but she didn’t want to.
“I don’t think I’ve ever known her to take public transport.
“She would say ‘I know what I like and like what I know’.
“She liked the area where she was. She knew how to get around.
“If she drove on her own it was never very far, four or five miles to go shopping.
“She never had any holidays.”
Mr Symons denies one count of murder.
His sister, Kathleen Adams, 74, from Princes Risborough, denies one count of perverting the course of justice.
Jennifer Creasey, 73, from Benson, denies two counts of perverting the course of justice.
The trial continues.