UK

Maids Moreton: Churchwarden guilty of murdering author

Benjamin Field standing next to novelist Peter Farquhar Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Benjamin Field (right) has been convicted of the murder of Peter Farquhar

A churchwarden has been found guilty of murdering an author after tricking him into changing his will.

Benjamin Field, 28, manipulated 69-year-old Peter Farquhar for financial gain and tried to make his death look like an accident or suicide.

Field was also accused of plotting to kill Mr Farquhar’s neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, 83, in the village of Maids Moreton but was found not guilty.

He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a date to be fixed.

At Oxford Crown Court, Field was also acquitted of Miss Moore-Martin’s attempted murder.

Mr Farquhar died in the Buckinghamshire village in October 2015, while Miss Moore-Martin died in May 2017 from natural causes.

Field, a Baptist minister’s son, admitted tricking both Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin into believing they were in relationships with him as part of a plot to get them to change their wills, but denied any involvement in their deaths.

The court heard Field had undergone a “betrothal” ceremony with Mr Farquhar and was in a sexual relationship with Miss Moore-Martin.

Oliver Saxby QC, prosecuting, told the trial the plot to deceive Mr Farquhar was a sustained “gaslighting” campaign.

Mr Farquhar’s drinks were topped up with bioethanol and poteen, a high strength Irish alcohol, and his food was laced with drugs, Mr Saxby said.

Mr Farquhar, who taught part-time at the University of Buckingham and had three novels published, suffered night terrors and hallucinations which he recorded in a handwritten journal.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Field said he drugged Mr Farquhar “purely out of meanness”

Field’s co-accused Martyn Smith, 32, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, was cleared of murdering Mr Farquhar and of plotting to kill Miss Moore-Martin.

During the trial Field admitted drugging the university lecturer with benzodiazepines and hallucinogenic legal highs to “torment” him.

He told the jury he did it “for no other reason other than it was cruel, to upset and torment Peter – purely out of meanness”.

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

‘Calculating and ruthless’

Senior investigating officer Mark Glover described Field as “cruel, calculating, manipulative, deceitful”, adding: “I don’t think evil is too strong a word for him.”

Chris Derrick, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “He is clearly a very calculating and ruthless man who spent a great deal of time planning what he was going to do.”

Judge Mr Justice Sweeney remanded Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, in custody until sentencing at a date to be fixed and ordered a psychiatric report.

His brother Tom Field, 24, of the same address, was cleared of a single charge of fraud.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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