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25 October 2013, 15:02 | Updated: 25 October 2013, 15:10
A 63-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering Buckinghamshire woman Patricia Goodband.
Christopher Symons, of Thackeray End, Aylesbury, was convicted of murdering 76-year-old Mrs Goodband by a jury at Reading Crown Court today (Friday 25th October).
Patricia’s body was found in a disused drainage shaft within the grounds of her home at Akeman House, near Woodham, on 21 January 2013.
She had been reported as missing by her daughter earlier the same month. A post-mortem examination found she had died from head injuries.
Symon’s girlfriend Jennifer Creasey, aged 73, of Hale Road, Benson, Oxon, was found guilty of one count of perverting the course of justice.
Symons’ friend Robert Taft, aged 59, of Kings Close, Westcott, Aylesbury, previously admitted charges of perverting the course of justice and possession of ammunition without a certificate.
Symons’ sister Katherine Adams, aged 74, of Aylesbury Road, Askett, Princes Risborough, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.
The convicted defendants will be sentenced on Monday.
Senior Investigating Officer Det Supt Chris Ward said: “Patricia Goodband was murdered by her ‘friend’ and business partner Christopher Symons in December 2012.
“Symons took advantage of Patricia’s feelings towards him and manipulated her during their relationship, assaulting her on a previous occasion which Patricia had described vividly in one of her diary entries.
“In order to inherit her property and share of their business, Symons devised a cruel and calculated plan to murder Patricia and make it appear as if she vanished without a trace.
“In early January he encouraged her daughter to report her as a missing person and drew his friend and girlfriend into his web of lies to try and cover the simple fact he had murdered her and dumped her body in a disused drainage shaft, where he hoped she would never be found.
“His actions were pre-meditated and motivated purely by greed.
“Through their subsequent actions, Robert Taft and Jennifer Creasey lied to police during the course of the initial missing person investigation with the aim of covering up Symons’ tracks.
“Taft admitted his lies at an early stage but Creasey maintained his innocence and stuck by his stories.
“My thoughts are very much with Patricia’s daughter and her true friends, who have been left distraught by her untimely death and I hope they can achieve some sense of closure knowing those responsible for her death have been brought to justice.
“This has been a complex inquiry in which we have had to unpick all of Symons’ lies in order to uncover the truth behind Patricia’s death.
“I would like to thank all the officers, staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly on the initial missing person inquiry, as well as all those who played a role in the subsequent murder investigation.”
Ruth Bowskill, Temporary Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “Christopher Symons has today been convicted of the cold blooded, and premeditated murder of Patricia. He is undoubtedly an extremely cold, calculated, and dangerous man.
“Even before he had killed Patricia, he had begun a series of lies aimed at explaining her disappearance and covering his tracks.Robert Taft and Jennifer Creasey have been convicted of lying to police in support of Symons and these lies.
“I would like to pay tribute to Patricia’s family for their wholehearted support of this investigation and the dignity they have displayed while hearing the horrific details of how she was killed.
“We have worked closely with Thames Valley Police since the investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved.
“We know that nothing will bring Patricia back to her family, but we hope that today’s conviction and sentence brings them at least a small sense that justice has been done. Our thoughts are very much with them at this time.”