Psychiatrist rules out dementia as explanation for victims' behaviour at Maids Moreton trial

On day 19 of the Maids Moreton murder trial at Oxford Crown Court, the prosecution called an expert witness.

By Sam Dean
Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 3:48 pm
Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin
Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin

Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist Dr Hugh Series took the stand to give evidence relating to the symptoms exhibited by both Peter Farquhar, 69, and Ann Moore-Martin, 83, in the last few months of their lives.

The consultant had previously prepared a 93-page report which he and Oliver Saxby QC frequently referred.

Relating to Mr Farquhar’s alcohol consumption, Dr Series confirmed that “his blood results were within the normal range.”

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Saxby confirmed: “Hence no evidence of changes due to overuse of alcohol.”

The psychiatrist then spoke of two tests that Mr Farquhar took to assess his cognitive functioning. In March 2015 he took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test and scored 29 out of 30.

Dr Series described this as “a very high score.”

In May that same year Peter Farquhar took the Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination (ACE) and scored 97 out of 100.

The psychiatrist concluded regarding these results:

“It rules out a diagnosis of dementia.”

Summarising the likelihood of Peter Farquhar suffering from dementia, Dr Series said:

“He didn’t get past the first diagnostic hurdle.”

Referring to his alcohol intake, the prosecution said that in 2013 the former University of Buckingham lecturer Peter Farquhar had been drinking approximately 42 units a week. Dr Series agreed “that’s quite a lot.”

In the last few weeks and months of his life, Peter Farquhar suffered from amnesia, tiredness and experienced some falls in his home that required hospital admissions.

The expert witness said:

“His strange behaviour could be explained by a combination of alcohol and Benzodiazepines.”

Oliver Saxby immediately informed the jury of an increase in Mr Farquhar’s prescriptions of flurazepam in the final months of his life.

During cross examination, David Jeremy QC for the defence asked whether Mr Farquhar’s behaviour could be the result of withdrawal.

Dr Series said: “They could be withdrawal symptoms but they are more compatible with continual administration.”

Further questioning the witness, Mr Saxby pointed to an occasion recorded in Ben Field’s journal where Mr Farquhar was given ten times the recommended dose of flurazepam. He asked the psychiatrist about the consequences of such a dose.

Dr Series said it would have “a very big effect, the most obvious being sleepiness,” before adding, “it could cause respiratory depression, so he could stop breathing and die as a result.”

Moving on to evidence relating to Ann Moore-Martin, the jury were reminded that the former head teacher had been diagnosed as suffering from small vessel ischemic disease and coronary artery atherosclerosis (CAA).

The court then heard that Ann Moore-Martin also took the MoCA test in May 2015 and scored 27 out of 30. Dr Series concluded of Ms Moore-Martin:

“She didn’t have any cognitive impairment.”

The jury was also informed about hallucinations Ms Moore-Martin had experienced in hospital after her first seizure on 4 February 2017 where she claimed to be seeing cats and dogs on the ward and word ‘priest’ in red when she closed her eyes.

However, they were also told that the 83-year-old was tested for drugs when admitted to hospital and none were found in her system.

Dr Series said of the last six months of Ann Moore-Martin’s life:

“I’m not able to say with any confidence that the mental symptoms arose from anything other than natural causes.”

He paused before adding:

“I can’t say that they didn’t either.”

Just before adjournment, the jury heard evidence from more witnesses for the prosecution that had been provided during police interviews and was read out in court by Oliver Saxby.

Mr Saxby explained that Yasmine Yasar had been Tom Field's girlfriend between August 2012 and June 2015, and that she had described Tom as "funny, caring and eccentric."

She told Police that he once boasted of stealing an expensive guitar from a music shop and selling it on.

Ms Yasar said that she split up with Tom because he was confused about his sexuality.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