On day 22 of the Maids Moreton murder trial at Oxford Crown Court, the defence began their case by calling defendant Ben Field to the witness stand.
David Jeremy QC for the defence opened by asking the defendant to confirm that he admitted to fraudulently seeking to benefit from the wills of Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin.
Mr Field agreed that he did.
Mr Jeremy then asked: “So where’s the lie?”
Ben Field replied: “The essential lie was that I loved him and that his feelings beyond the platonic were reciprocated by me. They were not.”
When asked why he ‘gas lighted’ Peter Farquhar, Ben Field replied: “To irritate him – I did it vindictively.”
Mr Field would later describe his feelings for Peter to the court in the following manner: “I have mixed feelings. I had a great deal of affection for him as a friend but I also found
aspects of him dislikeable.”
Moving on to Ann Moore-Martin, the defence asked the same question – where was the lie?
Mr Field replied: “That I had romantic feelings for her and that we were in a genuine romantic relationship. We were not.”
Mr Jeremy then asked if the defendant had lied to Ms Moore-Martin about needing £4,000 for a new car and £26,000 for a dialysis machine for his brother. Mr Field confirmed that he did.
When asked what he did with the money, Ben Field replied: “Well I certainly didn’t buy a dialysis machine. I spent it.”
Moving onto the burglaries that Mr Field has pleaded guilty to, the defence again asked why he did it.
Ben Field said: “I don’t have a very good reason for it - I was able to access his property. A kind of curiosity – because I could I think was the ultimate reason.”
Mr Jeremy followed with a series of quick-fire questions about the more serious charges against Mr Field.
When asked if he had suffocated Peter Farquhar, Ben Field replied: “No.”
When asked if his drug administration to Mr Farquhar, which he admits to, was intended to kill him, Ben Field replied: “No.”
When asked if he attempted to murder Ann Moore-Martin, Ben Field replied: “No.”
When asked if he gave drugs to Ann Moore-Martin, Ben Field replied: “No.”
When asked if he encouraged Ms Moore-Martin to commit suicide, Ben Field replied: “No.”
Mr Field was subsequently asked to read out to the court an email exchange between himself and his brother, Tom Field.
The first email from Tom Field came in the wake of a birthday gathering for Ben Field at which the pair had discussed what Ben Field was doing to deceive Mr Farquhar.
Tom wrote: “The lies need to stop,” adding, “the will thing is not OK.”
In the email, Tom Field also expressed concern about his brother’s activities, which the pair referred to as ‘manoeuvres’, affecting other people, specifically pointing out that he would be
taking away from Peter Farquhar’s brother by getting him to change his will.
In his email response, which Ben Field also read to the court, he said he was “chilled” by his brother’s words and wanted to meet to discuss the situation further.
David Jeremy QC then asked Ben Field if he had committed any other crimes. The defendant explained that he had been cautioned for shoplifting in 2011 and that he had from
time to time stolen sweets while he was at secondary school.
When asked about recreational drugs, Mr Field confessed that he had once taken cocaine at a party in 2010, and took benzodiazepine in 2014 to help him sleep.
The defence now turned to the question of Ben’s sexuality.
Ben described himself as heterosexual but added that he had had sexual encounters with men.
When asked what form these took by Mr Jeremy, Ben Field responded: “In the form of, on five occasions receiving oral sex for money – between £30 and £50 each time.”
Mr Field explained that there had been two men, who he contacted via Craigslist, who had paid him to perform oral sex on him.
When asked how he found the experience Mr Field said: “Neither pleasurable or objectionable.”
When asked why he did it, Mr Field explained: “Money was a secondary thing. It was to push my own boundaries. I was trying to do something that I found transgressive to test myself.”
Mr Jeremy moved on to ask Ben Field about important relationships he had. Mr Field admitted “it’s a short list.”
Mr Field expanded by informing the court that it was only his immediate family and one other person, Setara Pracha, who had been his girlfriend for approximately two years, whom he felt a true connection with.
Mr Field continued: “They’ve all been coloured by deception by me. I’ve deceived absolutely everyone that I’ve ever had a relationship with.”
Mr Jeremy inquired about the reasons for these deceptions. Mr Field answered: “I think the most common kind of deception by me is to pretend that I’m other than I am – that I’m better. I feel inadequate so it’s pleasing to pretend to be someone else.”
Ben Field, 28, and Martyn Smith, 32, are charged with one count of murder, one charge of conspiracy to murder, three counts of fraud, one count of possession of an article for the use in fraud, and one count of burglary.
Additionally, Ben Field is charged with one count of attempted murder.
Tom Field, 24, is charged with fraud.
The trial continues.