Ben Field, the Baptist minister's son who became a calculated and manipulative murderer in Maids Moreton
On Friday 9 August 2019, 28-year-old Ben Field was found guilty of the murder of 69-year-old retired teacher and author, Peter Farquhar in Maids Moreton, on 25 October 2015. The trial had begun at Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday 30 April 2019 and lasted for 77 days.
Today he was sentenced to 36 years in prison. He will not be eligible for parole until he has served his entire sentence.
Ben’s younger brother, Tom, made up a word for the way Ben Field navigated the world; ‘Interiority’.
At one point during his stint on the witness stand Ben said, “Most of my pleasures have been privately held. It's the habit of a lifetime to be living inside my head.”
The court heard how normality bored Field, school bored him, but instead of playing truant to spray graffiti or smoke cigarettes like most teenagers, Field headed for the library and read veraciously. One of his pleasures was reading different versions of the English dictionary and comparing the definitions of words.
Five or six years later, in his early twenties, the jury heard how he would break the mundanity he felt of everyday life by meeting up with men he'd met on Craigslist or Grinder and accept as little as £30 in return for allowing them to perform oral sex on him. In court he said he did it not for the money but to “push his own boundaries.”
Fast forward another half a decade to August this year, and Ben Field was found guilty of murdering a 69-year-old man with whom he was having a fake, non-sexual yet romantic relationship. He used a cocktail of sedatives and alcohol to kill Peter Farquhar, possibly accelerating the process by smothering with a pillow the man that it seems he had successfully conned everyone into thinking he was caring for.
Ben tormented Peter for at least 10 months prior to killing him, by secretly plying him with sedatives and hallucinogens while also hiding Peter's belongings or moving things around the home they shared, making a previously physically healthy man with a sharp mind suddenly believe he was suffering from dementia.
Regarding this 'gaslighting' of Peter Farquhar, Ben Field said during the trial that he did it “to irritate him,” adding, “I did it vindictively.” It sounded very much like a project for him, something else to quell the boredom, and indeed Ben kept meticulous notes of his crimes – something that would come back to haunt him during his trial.
Throughout the trial the jury heard that Peter, though torn by the conflictions he felt from his religious beliefs, was clearly romantically interested in Ben Field. On the 13 March 2014 they had and betrothal ceremony. But they also spent a lot of energy criticising each other in the most brutal and cutting ways through poems they wrote and presented to each other. Ben explained this to the court by saying, “I didn’t enjoy positive types of writing – they weren’t interesting to me.”
Though Peter appeared to show some awareness of Ben’s true character in these poems, at one point writing, “hurting others is his special pleasure,” in the end Peter held faith in Ben and awarded him a lifelong interest in his estate which Ben Field would eventually receive £142,000 from.
Although he was found not guilty of attempting to murder 83-year-old Ann Moore-Martin, his psychological torture of her was equally as cruel as that inflicted on Peter Farquhar.
Despite writing her endless love poems, raising the possibility of marriage and engaging in sexual activity - essentially romancing her to an extent that caused her niece to say that Ann's behaviour was like that of a “love sick teenager” - in court Ben Field described his feelings towards Ann as “very close to indifference.” Unfortunately, his cold heart would be the least of Ann's problems.
Ben admitted to defrauding Ann. He admitted faking a romantic relationship with a view to gaining financially from her. He admitted to using his hold over her, and indeed her kind nature, to convince her to part with almost £27,000 for a kidney dialysis machine that he said his brother needed, but did not. She also gave him £4,400 for a new car that he never bought, instead he hired a car for a day to make her think he had used the money for the correct purpose.
During his witness testimony Ben said of his manipulation, “I let her persuade herself” and Ann seems to confirm this in her own statement made to police before she died when she said, “Ben never did ask me for money – he was clever really.”
However, the long term project of inheriting her house required more than an evening of charm and suggestion. Field began, as he usually did, by writing. He penned a fake diary titled
'Letter to the Saints' in which he pretended to be privately fretting over the thought of not being able to live in Ann's home after she died. “This cannot be survived” he wrote at one point.
His plan was to 'accidentally' leave this in her house for her to find and read. It seems this scheme failed ironically because of Ann's good character – she found the diary alright, but returned it without invading the author's privacy.
Ben Field then shifted focus to Ann's other love, which was her faith in God. Ann Moore-Martin was a practicing Catholic. Although in court Ben spoke dismissively of his own relationship with religion, saying, “I believe in the idea of proof. I believe in the idea of some kind of light in us. I wouldn’t get anymore dogmatic than that,” he was well placed as the son of a Baptist Minister to take advantage of Ann’s commitment to her faith.
Ben began writing biblically inspired messages around Ann’s home, predominantly on her bathroom mirror, purporting to be from God. He said the idea came to him when he saw the appropriate pen in a stationery store and thought “I know what I can use that for.”
The messages had only one intention – to persuade Ann that she should leave her house to Ben Field when she died. The court heard how one message read: "All that you give him he will return tenfold."
We know from the testimony of Ann’s solicitor that the ruse worked. Ann Moore-Martin was persuaded to change her will in favour of Ben Field because she believed God was writing messages on her mirrors.
Ben Field was caught after Anne-Marie Blake, Ann’s niece and original benefactor of her will, grew suspicious of a then 26-year-old having a sexual relationship with an 83-year-old, and thus reported her concerns. That was in February, 2017. Just three months later, Ann Moore-Martin died of old age, at the time of her death she had realised that she had been conned, but it was before she could give all her evidence to the police or see Ben Field face justice.
Ben Field is the middle child of Ian and Beverly Field. He has an older sister, Hannah, and a younger brother, Tom. He was raised in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, where his mother had been a Liberal Democrat councillor between 2003 and 2009. The family moved to Olney in 2008 where Ian Field became the minister of Olney Baptist Church, standing down the day before his son’s murder trial began.
Ben Field achieved good grades at school. He got four A*s, four As and two Bs in his GCSEs, and two As and a C in his A-levels. He went on to gain a 2:1 in a BA Hons English Literature degree from the University of Buckingham.
Other than the Fields being described by neighbours as “the backbone of the community,” we know very little about his upbringing.
DCI Mark Glover, who led the investigation, said: “Without a doubt, Ben is a danger to society. What would have made Ben stop? I don’t think anything other than being caught and prosecuted.”