Murderer’s pal jailed for lying to police was sacked by council for illegally dumping asbestos in cemetery

Robert Taft in his town council uniform (Bucks Herald archives)

Robert Taft in his town council uniform (Bucks Herald archives)

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A man who helped a murderer cover his tracks was sacked by Aylesbury Town Council for his role in the burying of 40 bin liners of asbestos in the Tring Road Cemetery, the Bucks Herald can reveal.

Robert Taft was dismissed from his job as head of the cemetery works team for gross misconduct after an investigation found he played a part in the secret burial, which was exposed last year.

The Herald has been unable to reveal Taft’s dismissal until now because of his part in the Patricia Goodband murder inquiry.

Taft, 59, of Westcott, was jailed for 10 months in October for perverting the course of justice – after admitting lying to police when killer Christopher Symons was trying to cover up the murder of Mrs Goodband last December – and possession of ammunition without a certificate.

Council leader Mike Smith said after a painstaking investigation he and clerk Keith Gray concluded that Taft was involved in the burial, which has cost taxpayers more than £11,000 in clean-up costs.

Mr Smith said: “A consistent picture emerged which was that Robert Taft had awareness or involvement in what was going on.

“We felt there was a case for dismissing Mr Taft on the grounds of gross misconduct.”

Taft was in custody when the decision was taken and notified of his sacking through the police.

Mr Smith said the council never received any indication that he wished to appeal the decision.

The dumping of the asbestos is thought to have taken place in 2010 when a section of the Tring Road allotments was cleared to make way for the cemetery extension.

Corrugated asbestos roofs found on the allotment outbuildings were broken up and dumped in 10ft holes in ground which was due to be dug out for new graves.

It was discovered after an employee tipped off council bosses.

A group of workers were involved in the burial, but no-one other than Taft has been disciplined.

Everyone involved in the burial was offered health checks at the council’s expense following the incident, with no concerns arising.

Mr Smith said the council has worked hard to restore the cemetery’s reputation following the scandal.

He said: “The cemetery is the town council’s biggest asset. It’s something we are very proud of. Because of what happened that was put at risk and that was completely unacceptable to the town council, which is why we took the immediate action that we did.”

A separate investigation by Bucks County Council’s environmental enforcement team is ongoing.

The officer in charge of that investigation declined to comment.