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Ex-church warden to appeal against conviction for murder of university lecturer

Sian Harrison, PA
·3 min read

A former church warden serving a life sentence for the murder of a university lecturer following a campaign of physical and mental torture will challenge his conviction at the Court of Appeal.

Benjamin Field, 30, killed Peter Farquhar, 69, in order to inherit his house and money after driving him to think he was losing his mind following a period of gaslighting.

Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, was ordered to serve at least 36 years behind bars in October 2019 after being found guilty of Mr Farquhar’s murder following a trial at Oxford Crown Court.

Three senior judges will consider Field’s appeal against his conviction at a hearing in London on Thursday.

They will also hear an appeal against the length of his minimum jail term.

Maids Moreton murders
University lecturer Peter Farquhar was killed by Benjamin Field (Thames Valley Police/PA)

At his trial, Oxford Crown Court heard Field secretly gave Mr Farquhar drugs and spiked his whisky, hoping that his eventual death at his hands would look like suicide or an accident.

It was only when the Baptist minister’s son began targeting Mr Farquhar’s neighbour, Ann Moore-Martin, in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, that his wicked scheme began to unravel.

The sexually promiscuous Field also manipulated Miss Moore-Martin, a deeply religious retired headteacher, by writing messages on her mirrors purporting to be from God.

He admitted fraudulently being in relationships with the pensioners as part of his plan to get them to change their wills.

Mr Farquhar, who was torn about his sexuality because of his religion, died in October 2015 while Miss Moore-Martin died in May 2017 from natural causes.

Maids Moreton murders
Church warden Benjamin Field admitted being in a fraudulent relationship with Ann-Moore Martin (Thames Valley Police/PA)

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

Ms Moore-Martin gave him £4,000 to buy a car and £27,000 for a dialysis machine.

Field admitted two counts of burglary and three of fraud before his trial for murder.

He was found not guilty of conspiracy to murder Miss Moore-Martin and an alternative charge of attempted murder. He was also found not guilty of possession of an article for use in fraud.

Two psychiatrists said Field was either suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder or a psychopathic personality disorder.

Sentencing Field, Mr Justice Sweeney said he “lived by deception and deceit and had been a well-practised and able liar”.

Maids Moreton murders
Psychiatrists told the court Benjamin Field was either suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder or a psychopathic personality disorder (Thames Valley Police/PA)

“You further admitted how you could manipulate and manoeuvre people, however sceptical they may have been, to achieve your ends without ever asking them to do so directly,” he said.

“You were, you accepted, a snake talker, as you were able to build pressure on your victims to believe what you needed them to believe and then to do whatever you needed them to do.

“The evidence at trial clearly demonstrated grandiosity, a sense of superiority towards others, the exploitation 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.”

The judge said that Field murdered Mr Farquhar by covertly giving him drugs and getting him to drink strong whisky and then, “if it was necessary, finished him off by suffocating him in a way that left no trace”.

Field’s appeal will be heard by Lord Justice Fulford and two other judges from 10.30am on Thursday.