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Man convicted of murder in Buckinghamshire

Man convicted of murder in Buckinghamshire

Published by Dan Gooding at 12:46pm 9th August 2019. (Updated at 4:38pm 9th August 2019)

A man has been convicted over the death of a pensioner in Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire.

Church warden Benjamin Field, 28, has been found guilty at Oxford Crown Court of the murder of university lecturer Peter Farquhar in 2015.

  • Former church warden guilty of murder in 2015
  • Co-accused cleared of charges against them
  • Pensioner who died was manipulated & drugged by Field
  • 28-year-old then turned attention to victim's neighbour

Ben's brother Tom Field, 24, was cleared of a single charge of fraud.

Peter  Farquhar

His co-accused, 32-year-old Martyn Smith, was found not guilty of the same charge.

The pair were together cleared of a charge of conspiracy to murder Ann Moore-Martin, a retired headteacher who lived three doors away.

Field - who was also acquitted of her attempted murder - had turned his attention to the 83-year-old woman within a year of targeting Mr Farquhar.

He persuaded her that he loved her and she gave him £30,000 from her savings.

This is the call she made to withdraw it:

The call Ann made to Legal & General

She died in hospital soon after the plot to defraud her was uncovered.

'Evil & calculating'

Field, the son of a baptist minister, was a student when he met Mr Farquhar and realised that the English teacher was conflicted about his homosexuality.

He set about befriending him and the two men became engaged.

Mark Glover, the senior investigating officer for Thames Valley Police, called Field "evil and calculating".

He said:

"Peter had wanted somebody to love all his life and he was now 68 and this wonderful young man came into his life and he had no reason to disbelieve him."

Field laced his food and drinks with alcohol and drugs to confuse him, and the elderly man suffered several falls which required medical treatment.

Peter  Farquhar and  Ben  Field at  Dunkerry  Beacon
Peter Farquhar and Ben Field at Dunkerry Beacon

Mr. Glover added:

"Poor Peter suffered massively from the taking of the drugs.

"He would fall over in the bathroom and smash his face open, he fell down the stairs.

"He did all kinds of physical things to him. It's not just the financial effect of the fraud, but also the physical injury and mental torture that went with it."

Peter was filmed by Ben when he had been drugged

Mr Glover said Field subjected the old man to a prolonged campaign of "gaslighting".

He added:

"Gaslighting goes back to a play from the 1930s and I would best describe it as mental torture.

"Peter had a mobile phone. He would go to his mobile phone and for some reason all his contacts had been deleted and he couldn't explain it.

"He would go to get his house keys or his car keys and could not find them. Items went missing all the time. Pictures got moved, all kinds of things. It was a bit like having a poltergeist in your house I suppose."

Mr Farquhar was found dead in his home in October 2015 - he was slumped on the sofa next to a half empty bottle of whiskey and an inquest concluded that the death was alcohol-related.

A fly-through of the murder scene at Peter Farquar's home

Field had killed him and successfully made it look like he had drunk himself to death.

Before then, Field had tried to drive Mr Farquhar to suicide by drugging him and encouraging him to drink.

He also gave him "10 Battle Raps" as a Christmas present - a collection of "extremely insulting" rhymes about the retired academic that he found deeply upsetting.

In response, Mr Farquhar wrote a poem in which he described Field as "laughably vain", "deceptive and disloyal", and as having a "poisoned head".

Field - who grew up in Market Harborough, Leicestershire - collected £160,000 from Mr Farquhar's estate soon after his death and within a year he befriended Miss Moore-Martin.

Next victim

Ann  Moore  Martin
Ann Moore-Martin was befriended by Ben Field

Despite a 55-year age gap, he sent her letters and cards declaring his love, and gave her a framed photograph of himself which she kept in her bedroom.

Field, whose mother was a Liberal Democrat councillor, then convinced her that his brother was seriously ill and needed a dialysis machine costing £26,000.

She withdrew her savings to pay for it.

When asked what happened to the money during his trial at Oxford Crown Court, Field replied:

"Well I certainly didn't buy a dialysis machine - I spent it."

Ann  Moore  Martin's house, 6  Manor  Park
Ann Moore Martin's house on Manor Park

Miss Moore-Martin was a devout Catholic and Field preyed on her beliefs.

He wrote messages on mirrors telling her what she should do, which she believed to be messages from God.

Field took photos of what he was doing to document his fraud, which were then used to prosecute him. Relatives of the pensioner became suspicious of their unusual relationship, but a legal coincidence helped uncover the fraud.

Miss Moore-Martin contacted a local solicitor to change her will to make Field a beneficiary, but it was the same solicitor who Mr Farquhar had used when he arranged for Field to inherit his property.

Mr Glover added:

"It had obviously had a massive effect on Anne and in the last few weeks of her life it was dawning on Anne the effect that Ben Field had had on her life.

"She was made to feel a fool, without a doubt and she knew that.

"Anne being the devout Catholic that she was, the kind of upstanding member of the community, retired head teacher all that kind of thing, that would have devastated her, absolutely devastated her.

"I imagine she must have been lying in her hospital bed and it all coming over to her that actually it wasn't a loving relationship that Ben didn't love her and it was all about getting the contents of her will."

Sentencing against Field has been adjourned until after a pre-sentence psychiatric report is carried out, and he will remain in custody until then.

In a statement released by his solicitor after the verdicts on Friday, his co-accused Mr Smith said he was "relieved that this ordeal is finally over".

He added:

"I would also like to thank my true friends and family for all the emotional support that they have provided since my arrest.

"The lessons I take from this case are first and foremost to always be your own person and secondly to always choose your friends very carefully."

Another statement was read outside court by Detective Sergeant Richard Earl, on behalf of Mr Farquhar's family.

They described him as a "very loving and supportive man" and a "wonderful brother and uncle", adding that hearing evidence about what Field did to him "has been extremely difficult".

They said:

"His actions have been unbelievably callous, and he has told lie after lie after lie in order to achieve his goals, deceiving everyone he met."

Mr Glover said Field "has never shown any remorse" for what he did, and that he "would have posed an ongoing danger to society" if he had not been stopped.

Tribute to Peter Farquhar

The following tribute is released on behalf of the family of Peter Farquhar.

“We are pleased now that the trial is over, that justice has been served to account for all of the life that Peter has lost.

“Peter was always a very loving and supportive man. He was a wonderful brother and uncle and he is very greatly missed. It was a great pleasure to have had him in our lives.

“Peter was a school teacher and so many things in his life revolved around that, and around Stowe School in particular, where he was head of English.

“When he was teaching he would absolutely enthuse the students. People have been in touch with us since he died about how he completely transformed their understanding of literature.

Peter  Farquhar 2

“He retired, mainly to start writing novels, of which he wrote three, but he missed the common room activity and being part of a school community, so he started to lecture at Buckingham University, and he went on to become such a renowned academic. It was here that he first met Ben Field and Martyn Smith.

“Listening to the trial and hearing Ben Field give his evidence about what he did to Peter has been extremely difficult. His actions have been unbelievably callous, and he has told lie after lie after lie in order to achieve his goals, deceiving everyone he met.

“Ben Field is an arrogant man who has an extremely high opinion of himself. He used my brother as some kind of object to get his ends.

“All the things that were precious to Peter, Ben robbed him of. He did it all just to get some money, which we find absolutely astonishing.

“If people hear this story, we hope that they are very, very careful if somebody unexpected walks into the life of a loved one when that loved one is vulnerable and lonely. There must be other people out there like Ben Field and we would not want anybody to have to go through the things that we have.”

Tribute to Ann Moore-Martin

The following tribute is released on behalf of the family of Ann Moore-Martin, after Ben Field was convicted of defrauding her.

“Aunty Ann was the core of our family. She wasn’t just an Aunt but a mum/Grandmother and aunt all rolled into one.

“Our lives have all been changed forever and the world is a much darker place without her.

“Aunty Ann was an inspiration to us all. She faced challenges with strength and courage, and always wore a smile even in the face of adversity.

“Ourselves and Peter’s family are united in grief and sorrow but also in love and memories.

“Aunty Ann was a kind, gentle, beautiful soul, who touched so many lives, leaving behind a legacy of wonderful memories.

“We are truly blessed to be able to call her our Aunt.”

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