UK church warden jailed for abusing and killing a university lecturer

UK church warden jailed for abusing and killing a university lecturer October 18, 2019
Benjamin Field, left and Peter Farquhar. Image via YouTube

BENJAMIN Field, a 28-year-old British church warden and son of a Baptist minister, has been jailed for life for the murder of Peter Farquhar, 69, following a sustained campaign of physical and mental abuse.

Field was convicted in August of killing Farquhar, a retired teacher, novelist, evangelical Christian and part-time university lecturer, to inherit his house and money, and trying to make his death look like an accident or suicide.

Field was given life imprisonment with a minimum term of 36 years by Mr Justice Sweeney at Oxford crown court today (Friday).

Image via Thames Valley Police

After Farquhar’s death, Field began targeting Farquhar’s neighbour, 83-year-old Ann Moore-Martin, above, in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire. Field gaslighted Moore-Martin, a deeply religious retired headteacher, by writing messages on her mirrors purporting to be from God.

Field was cleared of a charge of conspiracy to murder Moore-Martin, and also acquitted of her attempted murder.

Farquhar died in October 2015, five years after he published a gay novel, Between Boy and Man. The plot was heavily based on Farquhar’s experience at Stowe School and concerns the struggle of a school chaplain to reconcile his Christian faith with his homosexuality.

Moore-Martin died in May 2017 from natural causes.

Prosecutors said Field had a “profound fascination in controlling and manipulating and humiliating and killing” and alleged he had plotted his crimes with his friend, Martyn Smith.

Smith, 32, a failed magician, was found not guilty of murdering Farquhar at Oxford crown court. He was also cleared of charges of conspiracy to murder and the attempted murder of Moore-Martin.

During the trial, jurors were told of Field’s elaborate project of befriending elderly individuals, who were vulnerable and lonely, then defrauding them by allowing them to think he was in a loving relationship with them. He then encouraged them to change their will to benefit him and began a devastating campaign of physical and mental torture.

Field admitted to poisoning, gaslighting and defrauding Farquhar in order to get a better job and inherit his wealth when he died and told the court he had also deceived and manipulated Moore-Martin in a similar way.

While he accepted he had “psychologically manipulated” the pair, Field denied any involvement in their deaths.

Field drew up a list of 100 future “targets”, including his own parents and grandparents, the court heard. He told the jury the “100 clients” file was not just a list of future targets but of people who could help him. The Crown Prosecution Service said the case was like a “plot from a novel”.

Field and Smith met Farquhar when they were students at Buckingham University. He struck up a friendship with the university lecturer and began lodging with him. Oliver Saxby QC, the lead prosecutor, told the jury that Field saw:

Peter was vulnerable, and this was something, from the very outset, he decided to exploit.

Field and Farquhar soon entered into a relationship and had a formal ceremony, which they called a betrothal ceremony.

Like Farquhar, Moore-Martin was unmarried and had no children. Saxby told the court she was “fundamentally lonely”.

In a statement, the Diocese of Oxford (Church of England) said:

The sentencing of Ben Field marks the conclusion of a long, complex and disturbing case. It’s clear that Ben Field manipulated everyone he came into contact with. We’re determined to learn what we can from this extraordinary case. The church and wider society needs to be ever more vigilant of those who can be made vulnerable by the likes of Ben Field, simply because they are elderly or lonely.

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  • Broga

    “The church and wider society needs to be ever more vigilant of those who can be made vulnerable by the likes of Ben Field, simply because they are elderly or lonely.”

    Profound indeed. I would never have figured that out for myself.

    Is this the best the Diocese of Oxford, C. of E. can offer despite supposedly being guided by God and with moral insights superior to the “people of no faith?” When they get a chance to be daring and do some ethical heavy lifting they pass it up. I don’t think their hearts are in it, no enthusiasm and so they recycle the usual boring platitudes.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Predators likely gravitate towards religion because of religion’s aversion to scrutiny. The people like Field can always get a pass be saying Jesus loud enough for all the other unscrutinized masses to support. This case, while not unusual, is compounded by the nepotism. How many preachers children will be given a pass?

    And somehow, God who is watching all of this can’t be bothered to warn his faithful followers of the dangers in their presence, but is definitely mad about gay people and people not worshipping him in general. Priorities.

  • Jim Jones

    Religion offers access to the vunerable, and tools to manipulate them and requires no proof of claims being made. A perfect situation.

  • Broga

    And they push it to the limit. Over the years, decades really, I have often noticed how the slightest criticism I have made about religion has been seen as “disrespectful to people’s faith.” This is the way the game has been played and others here will have experienced the same. Perfectly acceptable to salivate at the prospect of an atheist ending up in an eternity of hell fire. But not acceptable for an atheist to describe the beliefs of “people of faith” as nonsense. That has changed and continues to change rapidly as the cover of religion continues to be pulled back to reveal the squalor underneath.