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Man sentenced to life for murder of Bucks pensioner

Man sentenced to life for murder of Bucks pensioner

Published by Dan Gooding at 1:14pm 18th October 2019. (Updated at 3:07pm 18th October 2019)

A man convicted of murdering a pensioner in Buckinghamshire has been jailed for life.

Ben Field, who's 28, was found guilty of Peter Farquhar's death in August.

Peter died in Maids Moreton in 2015.

Today, Field has been handed a life sentence at Oxford Crown Court and will have to serve at least 36 years inside.

What happened?

Peter  Farquhar and  Ben  Field at  Betrothal  Ceremony
Peter Farquhar and Ben Field at Betrothal Ceremony

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."

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

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

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."

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."

Peter  Farquhar, 3  Manor  Park
Peter Farquhar's house

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.

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.

Another victim

Ann  Moore  Martin
Ann Moore Martin was Ben's next victim

Field's attention turned to Ann-Moore Martin, who lived only a few doors away from Peter in Maids Moreton.

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 then convinced Ann 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."

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.

Ann  Moore  Martin's house, 6  Manor  Park
Ann -Moore Martin's house in Maids Moreton

 

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."

Ann died in hospital soon after the plot to defraud her was uncovered in 2017.

Thames Valley Police officers were alerted to what happened to Ann and an investigation began which eventually revealed the extent of Ben's deception and his crimes.

He was charged with the offences in December 2018, and was convicted in August this year following a four month trial.

Sentencing

Mr Justice Sweeney told Field at his sentencing:

“I am sentencing you for seven offences, variously committed in the near four-year period between April 2013 and February 2017, when you are were aged 22 to 26 years.

“The evidence at trial clearly demonstrated grandiosity, a sense of superiority towards others, the exploitations of others to achieve personal gain, the need to belittle and humiliate others, fixation on fantasies of power and success, intelligence, a need for admiration from others, and a sense of entitlement together with an unwillingness to empathise with the feelings, needs and wishes of others.

“I have no doubt that you are a dangerous offender. In that regard, the public will be protected from you by the sentence of life imprisonment.”

Mr Glover added:

"This is unlike any other case I have investigated in more than 31 years of policing, and Ben Field is unlike any other criminal I have encountered.

"The extent of his planning, deception and cruelty towards his victims is frankly staggering, and I do not believe he has ever shown an ounce of remorse or contrition.

"If he is sorry for anything it is that he got caught. I am proud of my investigative team for ensuring that this has happened, and that he is now facing spending the next 36 years years in prison.

"This was a hugely complex and demanding investigation, with a massive amount of evidence needing to be examined and understood in order to bring Ben to justice.

"Further, the work of the prosecution team in the build up to and during the trial was also exceptional.

"Ben is a man who appeared to enjoy taking the stand in court, but the work of Oliver Saxby QC and Senior Crown Advocate Michael Roques especially, ensured that the jury were able to see him for the liar and manipulator he is.

"This investigation and trial has clearly been an ordeal for the families of both Peter and Ann, but they have shown immense bravery and dignity in supporting the investigation.

"The impact Ben had on their loved ones' lives was devastating, however, I hope that the knowledge that Ben has been given such a substantial sentence today will help them to start moving on from this distressing chapter of their lives."

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