'Our children are so young, I doubt they will remember him,' says murdered teacher's widow

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The Independent Online

Robert Symons was exactly the kind of person needed in Britain's schools to stem the crisis in science teaching. After a successful career as an IT consultant he had retrained to "put a little bit back" into society, as well as to spend more time with his young family.

Robert Symons was exactly the kind of person needed in Britain's schools to stem the crisis in science teaching. After a successful career as an IT consultant he had retrained to "put a little bit back" into society, as well as to spend more time with his young family.

But yesterday the widow of the teacher who had worked for less than a term at an inner city comprehensive near his home said she feared their children would be left with no recollection of their devoted father.

The 45-year-old died from a single stab wound after he confronted an intruder at the family home in Chiswick, west London on Wednesday morning. His wife, Linda Davies, 44, a photographer, said the couple had been looking forward to watching their children Harriet, five and Melissa, two, grow up. The girls were sleeping upstairs when their father was killed.

"Rob and I thought we were going to grow old together and now, when the children fall down, I can hear him offering to kiss them better. Our children are so young, I doubt that they will remember him," she said.

"Rob's ideal was the family unit. He is going to miss the plans we made for Halloween, Harriet's birthday and Christmas. He was the cook and he was already planning the Christmas lunch.

Forensic examinations were being carried out at the Symons' home, a £1m Edwardian villa in Airedale Avenue, one of Chiswick's most sought-after turnings, where local people were laying flowers yesterday.

His mother, Amyra Symons, 80, who lives in Windsor, described him as extremely outgoing and said he enjoyed teaching. "But he found he was not very happy about disciplining; he was too kind. He was a very friendly man," she said.

Mr Symons took his first post in September at Queens Park Community School, in Kilburn, north-west London. The school, established in 1989, is a popular comprehensive with foundation status.

The school's 1,143 pupils were told yesterday of Mr Symons' death. The head teacher, Mike Hulme, said: "He was a well-liked and popular member of our teaching staff ... The loss of human life in such circumstances is difficult to comprehend and all at the school are deeply saddened."

Police believe they have recovered the murder weapon and were performing tests on a knife discovered in the area. Several other items, including a watch, were also being examined.

Search teams of officers were trawling through piles of fallen leaves looking for a set of keys, thought to have belonged to Mr Symons, prompting speculation that the burglar or burglars may have let themselves in.

One police source said yesterday that the killer could have been working with an accomplice. Detectives are examining the possibility that the two are linked to a series of recent burglaries carried out in the west Hounslow area.

Police are examining footage from a CCTV camera, which captured images of a man leaving the house. He was described as white and wearing a light-coloured, short-sleeved shirt.

Residential burglary in the borough fell sharply last year down from 192 to 152 incidents in 2004. Violence, robbery and overall crime have also fallen.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur described Mr Symons' death as the "brutal killing of a decent man trying to protect his own home".