Maids Moreton murder accused 'pretended to be Christian'
A churchwarden accused of murder has admitted he pretended to be religious to impress one of his elderly victims.
Benjamin Field denies murdering Peter Farquhar, 69, and conspiring to murder 83-year-old Ann Moore-Martin - although he admits deceiving them to benefit financially from their wills.
"My motivation in going to church was about manipulating Peter," the 28-year-old told Oxford Crown Court.
Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin lived on the same street in Buckinghamshire.
The court has heard Mr Field entered into a sexual relationship with Miss Moore-Martin a few months after suffocating 69-year-old Mr Farquhar, to whom he became betrothed to in a plot to benefit from his will.
During cross-examination, Mr Field - the son of a Baptist minister - admitted he is not a Christian and had only put on a performance of being religious to help his defraud the two pensioners, both from Maids Moreton.
Oliver Saxby QC, prosecuting, told the defendant: "(Church) was a way of meeting potential targets. It's as simple as that."
Mr Field replied: "It's where I might meet people who were potential targets but first and foremost church was a way of impressing Peter."
The court heard that Mr Field had also attended retired headmistress Miss Moore-Martin's Catholic church with her.
During the trial, the court has heard that Mr Field gradually made Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin believe they were losing their minds.
His tactics included spiking Mr Farquhar's food and drink with hallucinogens, and writing "messages from God" on Miss Moore-Martin's mirrors.
Mr Field allegedly hired magician Martyn Smith to help him make Miss Moore-Martin's death look like an accident - but the prosecution said she died of natural causes before their plan could be carried out. Mr Smith, 32, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, denies murder, conspiracy to murder, two charges of fraud and one of burglary.
Mr Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, has admitted four charges of fraud and two of burglary.
His brother Tom Field, 24, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, denies a single charge of fraud.
The trial continues.