Evidence against an Aylesbury man accused of murdering his wealthy business partner ‘amounts to nothing’, a court was told today.
Claims that grandfather Christopher Symons killed divorcee Patricia Goodband ‘don’t work’, jurors heard, as the defendant’s barrister made his closing speech.
Mr Symons, 63, denies murdering the animal-loving 76-year-old, who was found dumped down a 12ft disused brick shaft in the grounds of her Woodham home, near Waddesdon, a month after she was last seen alive.
Tim Roberts QC told Reading Crown Court prosecutors’ claims ‘don’t fit one with the other’, adding: “They are running two horses in different directions at the same time.”
The jury have already heard how Mrs Goodband owned two houses and had savings with a combined value of around £1million at the time of her death.
In 2008 she wrote father-of-three Mr Symons, with whom she ran an aggregates business, into her will, meaning he stood to inherit both of her properties and £230,000 in the event of her death.
The body of mother-of-one Mrs Goodband had been hidden under soil and bags of rubbish.
Her injuries proved she had been beaten around the head at least six times.
Today Mr Roberts addressed the jury for the final time and told them there were three major elements to the defence case.
He said: “What we will seek to demonstrate to you is how the circle of circumstances relied on by the prosecution is incomplete.
“Secondly, how the prosecution places over-reliance upon lies told by Mr Symons that he has admitted having told.
“Thirdly we will seek to demonstrate how the financial motive introduced to you by the prosecution at the beginning of this case as evidence that would, they claimed, incriminate Mr Symons and demonstrate that he was the murderer, is an allegation that has fallen apart under examination in the course of this trial.”
Mrs Goodband was reported missing by her daughter Samantha McLoughlin, who lives in North Yorkshire, on January 9 this year. She was found dead on January 21.
Mr Roberts said the prosecution case had left ‘too many unanswered questions’, such as the timing of Mrs Goodband’s death as well as where she died, who was present at the time she was killed and the circumstances of her demise.
There was no evidence of Mr Symons’ DNA or fingerprints on rubbish bags and a pair of gloves found in the shaft alongside the victim’s body, Mr Roberts told the jury.
The defendant claimed not to even know of the shaft’s existence, he said.
Mr Roberts said: “There is no trace of real evidence to link Christopher Symons either to the deposition site or to the body or its clothing.”
Referring to an alleged violent incident which occurred between Mr Symons and Mrs Goodband on Christmas Day 2007 and which was recorded in her diaries, Mr Roberts said the suggestion the defendant had a short temper was at odds with a portrayal that he had meticulously planned the alleged killing five years later.
He said: “Surely these are contradictory assertions, are they not, in all predictable common sense?”
Dismissing the 2007 incident as a ‘storm in a teacup’, he said Mrs Goodband told police officers - called to the dispute by Mr Symons - nothing had happened but gave a different account in her personal diary.
Mr Roberts said: “Why would you reject the evidence of independent professional police officers, who say nothing happened and she wasn’t injured, in favour of what was written in her diary which suggests an extreme assault with days of pain afterwards, obvious injuries and a nasty assault on her?
“Is it unreasonable of me, on behalf of Christopher Symons, to say in 30 years of working alongside this lady the only record we have of any friction at all is this one, from Christmas Day 2007 - five years before the incident you are concerned with?
“And what was his reaction then? The unleashing of the maelstrom of temper from this quiet man?
“It resulted in no perceptible injury whatsoever to Patricia Goodband. The police didn’t even make a report of it.”
“There’s no comparison between these two incidents. They are at different ends of the spectrum entirely.”
Mr Roberts told jurors how checks of rail timetables found in Mrs Goodband’s internet history - at times when mobile phone records showed Symons was not at Akeman House - showed the pensioner had been considering going away for Christmas by herself.
He said: “That fact supports the defence case that she was talking about maybe going away for Christmas and wanting Christopher Symons to tell people that she was going away for Christmas.”
Mr Symons’ loyalty to Mrs Goodband meant he had continued to claim she had gone away - at her request - even when he knew she had not, said Mr Roberts.
The defendant’s admission that he had told lies was ‘no substitute for real evidence of complicity in crimes’, Mr Roberts told jurors.
He also said suggestions Mr Symons may have killed his partner of 30 years for financial gain were ‘holed below the waterline’.
Mr Roberts said: “This motive of a financial interest is mistaken and demonstrably so after you have heard the evidence.
“Evidence that you have really heard from the neighbour who knew them both for many years is that they were not bothered by money, they were not materialistic.”
Concluding his speech, Mr Roberts said the evidence presented by the prosecution ‘falls short of the type of reliable and compelling evidence’ to prove Mr Symons was guilty.
He added: “We submit that after the many hours of evidence you have listened to so patiently, when you tot it all up and evaluate it, the prosecution theories amount to nothing.”
Mr Symons denies a single charge of murder.
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.