Beds, Herts & Bucks

Maids Moreton murder accused 'killed author for will'

Peter Farquhar Image copyright Amazon
Image caption Oxford Crown Court heard Peter Farquhar, 69, was killed by Benjamin Field

A church warden murdered a university lecturer and attempted to kill a former headmistress to benefit from their wills, a court has heard.

Benjamin Field, 28, and Martyn Smith, 32, are accused of plotting the deaths of Peter Farquhar, 69, and Ann Moore-Martin, 83, in Buckinghamshire.

Oxford Crown Court heard Mr Field and Mr Smith persuaded the Maids Moreton residents to change their wills.

The pair deny murder and conspiracy to murder.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Peter Farquhar lived at the house circled on the left, and Ann Moore-Martin on the right

Prosecuting, Oliver Saxby QC said Mr Field's "project" was to befriend a vulnerable person, get them to change their will and then "make sure they died".

He told the court Mr Field and Mr Smith murdered Mr Farquhar, who died in October 2015, and conspired to murder Miss Moore-Martin - who later died from natural causes in May 2017.

Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin lived three doors away from each other.

Mr Saxby said: "The motive was financial gain - laced, as far as Benjamin Field is concerned, with a profound fascination in controlling and manipulating and humiliating and killing."

He said the church warden devised what he called "exit strategies" to use drugs and alcohol to make deaths look accidental.

"If he was to inherit their houses, they had to die. And if he was to enjoy his inheritance, he had to get away with it," he said.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Peter Farquhar was a guest lecturer at the University of Buckingham and had written a number of books

The court heard the church warden "relished" his "project" and documented various stages in notes and diaries.

Mr Saxby told the jury Mr Field killed Mr Farquhar "almost certainly by suffocating him".

He said Mr Field "tried to kill" Miss Moore-Martin but his plan "was cut short" when her niece became involved.

Mr Saxby said Mr Smith, a magician, assisted Mr Field in his plan because "he was greedy".

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Peter Farquhar changed his will so Benjamin Field would inherit his home, pictured

Mr Field also burgled the homes of elderly people and planned to deceive a 101-year-old woman, the jury heard.

The court heard Mr Field's brother, Tom, defrauded Miss Moore-Martin by "deceiving her" into giving Benjamin Field £27,000 which she believed was for a dialysis machine he needed to survive.

Mr Saxby said Tom Field "pretended to be extremely ill" when he met Miss Moore-Martin.

Benjamin Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, denies murder, conspiracy to murder, possessing an article for the use in fraud and an alternative charge of attempted murder. He has admitted four charges of fraud and two of burglary.

Mr Smith, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, denies murder, conspiracy to murder, two charges of fraud and one of burglary.

Tom Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, denied a single charge of fraud.

The trial continues.

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