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Church warden faces life sentence over sadistic murder of university lecturer

Benjamin Field killed Peter Farquhar in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire in order to benefit from his will.

Benjamin Field and Peter Farquhar (Thames Valley Police/PA)
Benjamin Field and Peter Farquhar (Thames Valley Police/PA)

By Rod Minchin, PA

An evil church warden is facing life imprisonment after being convicted of murdering a university lecturer following a campaign of physical and mental torture.

Benjamin Field, 28, was found guilty at Oxford Crown Court of killing Peter Farquhar, 69, in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, in order to benefit from his will.

His co-accused, magician Martyn Smith, 32, was found not guilty.

The pair were both cleared of a charge of conspiracy to murder Mr Farquhar’s near neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, and Field was also acquitted of her attempted murder.

Field’s younger brother, Tom, 24, was found not guilty of a £27,000 dialysis machine fraud by pretending to Ms Moore-Martin that he was seriously ill.

The Baptist minister’s son showed no emotion as the jury forewoman returned the unanimous guilty verdict.

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An aerial view of Manor Park in Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, of the former homes of Peter Farquhar (left) and Ann Moore-Martin (Steve Parsons/PA)

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney remanded Field into custody to be sentenced later following the preparation of a psychiatric report.

His parents, Ian and Beverley, who had attended every day of the trial, hugged their younger son Tom in court following his acquittal.

Senior investigating officer Mark Glover, a retired detective chief inspector, said Field fitted the profile of a psychopath.

“Cruel, calculating, manipulative, deceitful. I don’t think evil is too strong a word for him,” he said.

Mr Glover said Field had taken pleasure in tormenting his victim and torturing him physically and mentally, adding: “Everything is about Ben Field and Ben Field’s gain.”

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A message written by Benjamin Field to Ann Moore-Martin, which reads: ‘Pray for Ben, Ben loves you’ (Thames Valley Police/PA)

Chris Derrick, head of complex casework unit at CPS Thames-Chiltern, added: “I think torture is a word that can be used to described Benjamin Fields’ behaviour.”

He added: “He is clearly a very calculating and ruthless man who spent a great deal of time planning what he was going to do.”

The trial, which began in April, heard that Field killed Mr Farquhar by making his death look like an accident or suicide.

The University of Buckinghamshire graduate had admitted fraudulently being in a relationships with Mr Farquhar and Ms Moore-Martin as part of his plan to get them to change their wills.

He accepted he had “psychologically manipulated” the retired teachers but denied any involvement in their deaths.

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Peter Farquhar (Thames Valley Police/PA)

Field spiked Mr Farquhar’s food and drink with neat alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs during the gaslighting, while also writing messages on Ms Moore-Martin’s mirrors purporting to be from God.

Mr Farquhar, who was torn about his sexuality because of his religion, died in October 2015, while Ms Moore-Martin, who was targeted after Mr Farquhar’s death, passed away in May 2017 from natural causes.

Field had undergone a “betrothal” ceremony with gay Mr Farquhar while also having a string of girlfriends, and was in a sexual relationship with Ms Moore-Martin, who was 57 years his senior.

Prosecutors said Field had a “profound fascination in controlling and manipulating and humiliating and killing”.

The PhD student was a prolific writer, documenting his thoughts and activities in diaries and journals.

Field had also drawn up a “100 clients” list, including his parents, grandparents and brother, which the prosecution said were future targets.

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A photograph of Benjamin Field in a frame (Thames Valley Police/PA)

He denied murdering the author and University of Buckingham lecturer and maintained he could have died from taking his usual dose of flurazepam and drinking whisky.

“This murder never happened. No-one killed anyone,” he told jurors.

Field told the jury he had created fake relationships with Mr Farquhar and Ms Moore-Martin in order to benefit financially from their deaths – but had not wished them dead.

“The mirror writing was all fake, the relationship was all fake and done with gain in mind,” he said.

“I have deceived absolutely everybody that I have any kind of relationship with.”

He later admitted lying to the jury about the extent of his homosexual experiences after first denying using Grindr to meet men for sex.

Field had previously pleaded guilty to defrauding Ms Moore-Martin of £4,000 to buy a car and £27,000 for a dialysis machine. But he had insisted he had acted alone and not recruited his brother to help with the dialysis fraud.

Smith told the jury he was unaware that Field was in a relationship with Mr Farquhar or that he was gaslighting and defrauding him.

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Peter Farquhar and Benjamin Field at their betrothal ceremony (Thames Valley Police/PA)

He also said he had no idea he was a beneficiary of Mr Farquhar’s will.

Smith said he believed Field and Ms Moore-Martin’s relationship was genuine and described it as “unusual but perfectly consensual”.

“I didn’t really think much about it,” he added.

Tom Field did not give evidence in the trial and his barrister argued the prosecution’s own evidence demonstrated he has no case to answer.

Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, was acquitted of conspiracy to murder and the alternative charge of attempted murder. He was also found not guilty of possession of an article for the use in fraud.

He previously admitted four charges of fraud and two of burglary.

Smith, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, was acquitted of murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of an article for the use in fraud, two charges of fraud and one of burglary.

Cambridge University graduate Tom Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, was found not guilty of a single charge of fraud.

PA

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