‘Cruel and calculating’ church warden guilty of murdering university lecturer

A “calculating” church warden has been convicted of murdering a university lecturer after a campaign of physical and mental torture.

Benjamin Field, 28, was found guilty at Oxford Crown Court of the murder of Peter Farquhar, 69, in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire.

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 close neighbour Ann Moore-Martin and Field was also acquitted of her attempted murder.

Field killed Mr Farquhar by making his deaths look like an accident or suicide.

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

Field, a Baptist minister’s son, admitted fraudulently being in relationships with Mr Farquhar and his neighbour Miss Moore-Martin as part of a plot to get them to change their wills but denied any involvement in their deaths.

Prosecutors told Oxford Crown Court Field and Smith targeted Miss Moore-Martin a few months after murdering Mr Farquhar but they were acquitted of charges relating to her death after 77 hours of deliberations.

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.”

Peter Farquhar
Peter Farquhar (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.”

Field’s brother Tom, 24, a Cambridge University graduate, was cleared of a  single charge of fraud.

Benjamin Field showed no emotion as the jury forewoman returned the verdicts.

When his brother, who was on bail, was released from the dock he hugged his parents.

Mr Justice Sweeney adjourned sentencing against Field until a date to be fixed after ordering a pre-sentence psychiatric report.

He was remanded into custody until then.

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