Second defendant at Maids Moreton trial denies knowledge of friend's plan to defraud elderly victims

Former magician Martyn Smith is charged with the murder of Peter Farquhar
Former magician Martyn Smith is charged with the murder of Peter Farquhar

Murder accused Martyn Smith, who is a former student at the University of Buckingham, entered the witness box on Tuesday 2 July at Oxford Crown Court.

Mr Smith, 32, who is originally from Cornwall, is charged alongside co-defendant Ben Field for the murder of Peter Farquhar and conspiracy to murder Ann Moore-Martin, as well as multiple counts of fraud and one count of burglary.

Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin

Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin

Mr Timothy Moloney for the defence asked his client about the bottle of whisky Mr Field left for him at 3 Manor Park, Maids Moreton, the residence of Peter Farquhar, on Saturday 24 October 2015, the day before the prosecution alleges that Mr Farquhar was murdered.

It is the prosecution's case that Mr Farquhar was poisoned with a cocktail of alcohol and drugs.

Ben Field admits to giving Peter Farquhar sedatives and hallucinogens without him knowing on occasions but says that he wasn't doing so around the time of his death. He claims that over the weekend of Mr Farquhar's passing he had planned to leave a bottle of whisky as bait for Peter Farquhar to catch him drinking.

Mr Field has previously told the court that his plan was to give Martyn Smith the bottle as a present and then hope Mr Smith would accidentally leave the bottle in the house for Peter Farquhar to find.

Ben Field taking pictures of the messages he wrote on Ann Moore-Martin's mirror

Ben Field taking pictures of the messages he wrote on Ann Moore-Martin's mirror

Mr Moloney inquired of Mr Smith regarding the bottle of whisky:

“Did you know it was going to be there?”

Mr Smith replied:

“Ben told me he had left a present.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“Why did you leave the bottle?”

Mr Smith explained:

“Because it wouldn't fit in my rucksack and I was going straight to the post-graduate centre. That's why I left it there.”

Mr Smith continued:

“I left it in the bedding, Peter found it and I felt bad about that.”

Mr Moloney inquired:

“Did you blame yourself?”

Martyn Smith said:

“Yes I did.”

Mr Moloney asked Mr Smith how he felt about the £10,000 that Peter Farquhar left him in his will.

Mr Smith said:

“I had mixed feelings. The amount was a surprise but apart from that I thought it was quite good.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“Did you think you were going to be left something?”

Martyn Smith answered:

“Yes.”

Moving on to Ann Moore-Martin, Mr Moloney asked Mr Smith what he thought of his friend Ben Field having a sexual relationship with an 82-year-old woman.

Mr Smith said:

“I thought it was unusual but perfectly consensual. I didn't really think too much about it. I generally thought it was fine.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“Did you know about the fraud?”

Mr Smith responded:

“No.”

Timothy Moloney questioned the defendant about the letters he delivered to Ann Moore-Martin on behalf of Ben Field while he was on holiday in France. As described by Mr Field in his evidence, these letters were part of his ruse to win Ms Moore-Martin's affections and ultimately to become a beneficiary of her will.

Mr Moloney said:

“You were delivering them?”

Mr Smith said:

“Yes I was.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“Did you read them?”

Martyn Smith replied:

“No.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“How many were there?”

Mr Smith replied:

“Ten, I think.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“Did you know it was about fraud?”

Mr Smith said:

“No, I didn't.”

Mr Moloney said:

“Would you have delivered them if you had known?”

Mr Smith answered:

“No, I don't think so.”

Mr Moloney now asked about Liz Zetl's will and how a copy ended up on Ben Field's computer at the University.

Both Mr Field and Mr Smith are charged with being in possession of Liz Zetl's will for use in fraud.

Martyn Smith explained:

“I used Ben's account because he had unlimited printing and I hadn't.”

Martyn Smith was then questioned about text messages between himself and Ben Field relating to Jonathan Elliman, who Ben Field admits to stealing antique firearms from.

Ben Field wrote to Martyn Smith:

“Jelliman tomorrow maybe?”

Martyn Smith replied:

“Yes, that's cool. Will be up for that.”

Timothy Moloney asked what these messages referred to.

Mr Smith replied:

“To go round and visit him.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“Was it to do with burglary?”

Martyn Smith replied:

“No.”

Mr Moloney said:

“Were you present at the burglary?”

Martyn Smith responded:

“No.”

Mr Moloney later asked his client if he received any money from Ben Field's scheme to defraud Ann Moore-Martin out of £26,000 for a kidney dialysis machine that he falsely claimed his brother Tom Field required. Martyn Smith said that he did not received any money from this.

Further text messages between Mr Smith and Mr Field make it clear that he knew about Ben Field's mirror writing campaign to convince Ann Moore-Martin she was receiving messages from God telling her to leave her house to Ben Field.

During one exchange, Mr Smith texted Mr Field:

“What will you be up to tonight – more mirror work?”

Mr Moloney asked Mr Smith why he thought Mr Field was writing messages on Ms Moore-Martin's mirrors.

Mr Smith explained:

“Because, as Ben put it, Ann always wanted to receive visions and they would be positive messages from angels.”

The defence asked Mr Smith if he eventually found out the motivation for the messages.

Mr Smith said:

“Yes, they were to try to get himself into her will.”

Mr Moloney asked if it was also to get his client into the will.

Mr Smith replied:

“No.”

Another scheme Ben Field admits to deploying was the creation of a fake will of his own that included Ann Moore-Martin's niece Anne-Marie Blake as a beneficiary. The purpose of this was to reassure Ms Moore-Martin that her niece, who was the original beneficiary of her estate, would be looked after if she changed her will in Ben Field's favour.

Communications recovered by police suggest Martyn Smith was aware of the existence of the fake will.

Mr Smith told the court:

“At this point I didn't know what the will meant.”

Mr Moloney asked:

“What did you think was the point of the fake will?”

Martyn Smith replied:

“I thought it was just like the marriage ceremony book, that it was some sort of fantasy roll playing game they were engaged in.”

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.