Missing Don Banfield 'killed by wife and daughter'

Image caption,
Don Banfield is a retired betting shop manager

A retired bookmaker was murdered by his wife and daughter who went on to pretend he was alive and claim his pension, a court has heard.

Don Banfield was 63 when he was last seen leaving the family home in Harrow, north-west London, in May 2001.

Shirley Banfield, 64, and Lynette Banfield, 40, of Ashford Road, Canterbury, Kent, deny murder.

They have pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, forgery and conspiracy to pervert justice at the Old Bailey.

Mr Banfield had recently retired from running the Hampstead branch of William Hill bookmakers when he went missing. His body has never been found.

A new life

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said the day before he disappeared Mr Banfield told his doctor that, a fortnight earlier, he had woken in the middle of the night to find he had been handcuffed behind his back.

His wife had been trying to tie down his legs and put a plastic bag over his head, but he managed to get up.

He told a policeman the following morning that he thought he had been struck on the back of the head.

Two weeks later he said that he awoke to find his daughter squirting furniture polish into his eyes. Mrs Banfield had then confronted him with a knife.

Mr Banfield had also feared his wife was trying to poison him with the food she cooked for him but he did not want police to do anything because he could not risk her knowing he had contacted officers.

Mr Aylett said Mr Banfield was killed for his share of the proceeds of the family home, which was being sold.

He said: "At the time, Don Banfield was obviously expecting to receive a large amount of money from the sale of the house.

"He also had his pension from William Hill to live on. He had decided to set up a new life for himself on his own.

"Shirley, on the other hand, perhaps faced a rather bleaker future. She was 54 and on the verge of being abandoned without money to re-house both herself and Lynette.

'Tension in household'

"Without Don's pension, or only a share of it, they would have less money to live on than before."

He said the women went on to fraudulently draw on Mr Banfield's private and state pensions while claiming he was still alive.

In total, they benefited by £123,000 over the next eight years, the jury was told.

Within six months of the disappearance, the women had moved to Whitby, North Yorkshire, despite having no links there, Mr Aylett said.

They had then gone to live in York before moving to Kent in 2005.

Mr Aylett said when a police investigation was reopened into Mr Banfield's disappearance in 2009, the women claimed they had seen him the previous Christmas.

The trial continues.

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