A wealthy pensioner seemed out of sorts and confided to a friend about money worries on the day she was last seen alive, a jury was told today.
Patricia Goodband, known as Pat, said she ‘had no money’ and would have to live in a bungalow despite owning two large houses and having more than £200,000 in life savings in her bank account.
These assets and large funds were to be left the man accused of her murder after she wrote him into her will five years ago – a fact Mrs Goodband kept quiet from loved ones.
The 76-year-old divorcee was ‘emotionally attached’ to Christopher Symons, her friend of more than 30 years.
She was going to leave two properties and £230,000 to him.
The body of mother-of-one Mrs Goodband was found dumped down a 12ft deep brick-lined disused shaft in the back garden of her home in Woodham, near Waddesdon.
It had been hidden under soil and bags of rubbish.
Mrs Goodband’s injuries proved she had been beaten around the head at least six times, a hearing at Reading Crown Court was told.
Today prosecutor Joanna Glynn QC told the jury of eight men and four women that Mrs Goodband and her business partner Mr Symons had gone to visit Ruth and Donald Pointer three days before Christmas last year.
Her surprise confession about money worries came over coffee just after midday.
Reading Mrs Pointer’s witness statement aloud, the prosecutor said: “Pat and Chris were due to come around at 10.30am but didn’t arrive until 11.30am.
“They had come to get their Christmas presents as they had given us ours two weeks earlier.
“On previous occasions she has come up she was a bubbly lady, but on December 22 she just sat there not seeming as she used to be.
“Pat said she didn’t have any money and I didn’t know what to say.
“Also when she was on the path leaving, it seemed she didn’t want to go as Chris was ahead of her.
“When they turned up though Chris had all new clothes on and I said he looked very posh. Pat also looked smart.
“Chris said they were going to meet someone. He didn’t say who.
“They weren’t here that long as they said they had to go. Chris had been in Milton Keynes as he said he had picked up a lorry.
“He had it mended. Pat also said they had to meet someone, but she never said who.
“They were here for 10 or 15 minutes.
“She said she had cooked Chris a good breakfast that day.
“Pat was talking to me about money worries. I remember saying to her: ‘What have you got to worry about?’
“She said she could get a bungalow and that was the end of that.
“Pat was also telling me about her shoulder hurting.”
Mr and Mrs Pointer described her black fleecy top and trousers which matched what she was wearing when she was found dead on January 21 – a month after she was last seen alive.
The hearing has been told that Mr Symons and his wife Anita had once owned the house where Mrs Goodband lived.
She put the land surrounding the property into his joint ownership in 1994.
The jury was told that in 2008 she created a will in which she left two properties and all her money to Mr Symons.
Akeman House, where she lived, was worth between £550,000 and £600,000 at the time of her death.
A second property in Edgecote was estimated to be worth between £170,000 and £200,000.
Mr Symons would also have received the £230,000 in her bank account as part of the inheritance.
Neighbours have described Mrs Goodband as ‘good company’ and who loved animals.
Her neighbour Ellwyn Atkinson - known as Thatch - said Mrs Goodband was extremely fond of her two Alsatian dogs.
“She used a toothbrush and Colgate toothpaste to clean their teeth,” said the machinist.
“I’ve never seen anyone do that before.
“She was a lovely woman.”
Mrs Goodband was reported missing by her daughter Samantha McLoughlin, who lives in North Yorkshire, on January 9.
It came after 63-year-old Mr Symons broke the news that her mother was missing and she should tell police of the mysterious disappearance.
Prosecutors say Symons tried to cover his tracks by sending text messages appearing to suggest that Mrs Goodband was alive.
The first, sent to his own phone, ‘confirmed’ that Mrs Goodband had bought the train tickets for her journey to Yorkshire on December 22.
Detectives discovered no tickets were ever bought.
The second read: “Please thank Bob for taking me to Milton Keynes railway station. I have arrived in Stockton safely.”
Mobile phone cell site analysis showed in both cases the messages had been sent and received by phone masts covering Akeman House, Woodham.
Mr Symons, of Thackeray End, Aylesbury, denies a single charge of murder.
His lover, Jennifer Creasey, 73, of Benson, Oxon, denies two counts of perverting the course of justice.
The prosecution allege she wrote a fake Christmas card from ‘Sue’ to ‘Pat’ indicating that she was expecting her to arrive in Stockton-on-Tees on December 22, last year.
Mr Symons’ sister, Kathleen Adams, 74, Aylesbury Road, Princes Risborough, also denies one count of perverting the course of justice.
This, the prosecution say, happened when she lied to police by stating that Mrs Goodband told her she would be staying up north over Christmas.
Grave digger Robert Taft, 59, of Westcott, has already admitted ‘telling a lie’ to police about dropping Mrs Goodband off at Milton Keynes train station.
The hearing in front of Judge Zoe Smith was adjourned until Monday morning.