A 28-year-old Olney man with 'unable to show human empathy' is found guilty of a despicable murder.
Following an investigation by Thames Valley Police, Benjamin Field has been found guilty in a murder investigation in Maids Moreton.
The force launched a double murder investigation in 2017, following the deaths of two residents in the same road, Manor Park in Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire.
Peter Farquhar was found dead on 26 October 2015, aged 69.
Ann Moore-Martin died on 12 May 2017, aged 83.
After a twelve week trial at Oxford Crown Court, the jury returned the following verdicts today (9/8):
Benjamin Field, aged 28, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, was found unanimously guilty of one count of murder. He had already pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud and two counts of burglary. He was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy to murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of possession of an article for use of fraud.
Ben Field will be sentenced at a court and date yet to be scheduled.
Meanwhile, Ben’s brother, Tom Field, aged 24, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, was found not guilty of one count of fraud.
Co-defendant, Martyn Smith, aged 32, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, was found not guilty of one count of murder, not guilty of one count of conspiracy to murder, not guilty of three counts of fraud, not guilty of one count of possession of an article for use of fraud, and not guilty of one count of burglary.
Ben and Martyn were originally arrested in connection with the investigation on 13 March and 14 2017 respectively, and were then rearrested on 16 January 2018 and charged with the offences on 6 November 2018.
Senior Investigating Officer in this case, Principal Investigator Mark Glover said: “This is unlike any investigation that I have previously worked on in my 31 years of police service. It is unique due to the detailed planning by Ben Field, and due to the scale and complexity of the investigation.
“Murder is usually the result of one moment of madness, but in this case there was extensive planning by Ben Field to befriend, manipulate and then kill Peter Farquhar.
“Our two year investigation was like a jigsaw, with each piece of evidence eventually revealing the full picture. During the investigation we took 1,407 statements, recorded 2,671 exhibits, downloaded material from 127 electrical devices, including computers, USB sticks and phones, and conducted forty suspect interviews.
“Ben has never shown any remorse for what he has done, and I am convinced he is unable to show human empathy. Ben’s arrogance led him to believe that he would literally get away with murder – ‘I think I’ll get away with most of it’ he told Martyn Smith.
“Ben befriended Peter Farquhar in April 2011, after meeting him at the University of Buckingham, where Ben was a student and Peter was a guest lecturer.
“Ben’s ultimate aim was to get Peter to change his will to benefit him, and then kill Peter so he could claim his inheritance.
“Peter was vulnerable, partly due to the fact he felt it difficult to reconcile his strong Christian faith with his homosexuality. However, over a period of four years, Ben was able to manipulate Peter to believe that the pair were in a genuine and caring relationship.
“In order to make good his plans, Ben kept up the pretence of being in love with Peter by sharing a bed with him. Ben’s deception continued when a union ceremony was carried out at church in which the two betrothed themselves to each other.
“Peter fell in love with Ben, and duly changed his will to benefit him - Ben was to inherit a life interest in Peter’s property as well as £20,000 in cash. Ben even drove Peter to the solicitor’s office to ensure the will was changed.
“Over a number of months, Ben covertly administered drugs and alcohol to Peter. This led to him suffering numerous falls and receiving injuries which Ben falsely explained away to friends, family and medical experts as a result of Peter being an alcoholic, which he was not.
“Ben also suggested to Peter, as well as to Peter’s family and friends, that Peter could be suffering from dementia.
“Ben also mentally tortured Peter, who, as an academic, thought he was losing the part of him that was most precious; his mind. Ben gaslighted him by psychologically manipulating him; such as hiding his possessions.
“Once Peter had changed his will, Ben continued to poison him with more drugs and alcohol.
“The prosecution case was that Ben succeeded in murdering Peter on October 25 2015, and on October 26 2015, Peter was found dead at his home by his cleaner.
“Giving evidence in court, Ben never appeared to show any genuine emotion or contrition, despite admitting to defrauding both Peter and Ann Moore-Martin by allowing them to think he was in a loving relationship with them, and also admitting that he was repeatedly drugging Peter without his knowledge.
“This speaks volumes as to Ben’s character. I am convinced that had he not been stopped, he would have posed an ongoing danger to society.
“I am grateful to the jurors who have taken this most important public service seriously; they listened diligently to all the evidence during the twelve week trial, deliberated their verdicts for more than 77 hours, and returned their verdicts.
“Further, I am extremely grateful to all the prosecution witnesses who gave evidence in court, this is never a pleasant experience and their contribution cannot be underestimated.
“I want to thank all police officers and staff, and the Crown Prosecution Service who helped to piece this jigsaw together and present our case to the court. Special mention to Officer in the Case, Detective Sergeant Richard Earl, Oliver Saxby QC, and Senior Crown Advocate Michael Roques.
“My thoughts remain with Peter and Ann’s families and loved ones, who have shown nothing but dignity and bravery throughout.
“This has been a two-and-a-half year journey for the families also. Their patience in support of the lengthy and sometimes distressing police investigation and court process, is to be admired.
“This investigation highlights the fact that there are many ways people can be vulnerable. Peter and Ann were defrauded through their age, their independence and their religious beliefs.
“As the average of the population increases, our society needs to be more aware of the additional dangers which elderly people may face.”