The son of an Aylesbury man accused of murdering his elderly business partner today told a court the relationship between the alleged killer and the victim was ‘strictly business’.
Grandfather Christopher Symons, 63, denies murdering divorcee Patricia Goodband, whose body was found dumped down a 12ft deep disused drainage shaft in the grounds of her Woodham home.
Mr Symons’ eldest son, Toby, today told Reading Crown Court how his father had asked him for a blank Christmas card in early January this year.
When Mrs Goodband, 76, was reported missing, his father gave him a copy of the contents of a Christmas card found inside her home, he told the court.
The prosecution alleges that as part of his plan to cover his tracks, the accused asked his lover, Jennifer Creasey, 73, to write a fake Christmas card to make it appear that Mrs Goodband had gone away to Yorkshire over Christmas.
Mr Symons said he enjoyed a ‘very good’ relationship with his father and described how he shared a three-bedroom home Aylesbury with both his parents.
He told the court how they had a family Christmas together last year, just days after Mrs Goodband was last seen alive.
On December 27 the family visited the accused’s sister and co-defendant, Kathleen Adams, and her terminally-ill husband Bill, who died on January 4 this year.
Two days later, Mr Symons said he helped his father take rubbish from Mrs Goodband’s home to the tip.
Asked what the refuse contained, he answered: “Mainly flat-pack cardboard boxes and two or three wooden crates.”
One afternoon early in the New Year - probably January 1 or 2, said Mr Symons - his father asked him for a Christmas card.
“He said he wanted it to send some money to charity,” said Mr Symons, who told how he retrieved one from a plastic box in the loft.
In the early part of the year, Mr Symons said he was present when his father rang Mrs Goodband’s daughter, Samantha McLoughlin, to say she was missing.
Mr Symons said he understood Mrs Goodband had been away and hadn’t returned.
Prosecutor Joanna Glynn QC asked him: “What did he (your father) say, so far as your remember?”
Mr Symons said: “I didn’t overhear it all, to be honest.
“I know there was a concern of her not coming back on time.
“That’s when he made contact with her daughter.”
The same night a police officer visited the Symons’ family home to file a missing persons report.
The female officer, along with the defendant and his son, visited Mrs Goodband’s home, Akeman House, near Waddesdon.
Mr Symons said his father showed a Christmas card found in an office in the house to the officer.
Mrs Glynn asked: “Did you recognise the card?”
Mr Symons said: “I didn’t at the time, no.”
Mrs Glynn replied: “Did you see it?”
Mr Symins answered: “I saw what was written in it.”
He added that he had only seen the inside of the card.
He confirmed his father had made a photocopy of the card and its contents while at Akeman House with the police officer.
Mrs Glynn asked: “Did he explain why he was doing it?”
Mr Symons said: “He said to me he had taken a copy to give to the police officer.
“I could only assume that they were going to take it away with them.”
Mr Symons added that his father also gave him a copy of the card and its contents which he had stored in a file in his bedroom.
Mrs Goodband was reported missing by her daughter, who lives in North Yorkshire, on January 9.
Her body was found on January 21.
Mr Symons denies one count of murder.
Ms Adams, 74, of Princes Risborough, denies one count of perverting the course of justice.
Ms Creasey, of Benson, denies two counts of perverting the course of justice.
The trial continues.