A church warden who inherited the home of a university lecturer he had seduced, defrauded and tried to drive to suicide has been jailed for life with a minimum of 36 years.
Ben Field, 28, was described as “evil and calculating” by police after he wasfound guiltyof Peter Farquhar’s murder in August this year.
At trial he admitted that he befriended and laterbecame engaged tothe 69 – year-old, gave him drugs to confuse him, and then inherited his home when he died in October 2015.
But he had denied murdering him at his home in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire.
Field, the son of a baptist minister, was a student when he met Mr Farquhar in April 2011 and realized that the English teacher was conflicted about his homosexuality.
He set about befriending him and the two men became engaged.
At the time of the conviction Mark Glover, the senior investigating officer for Thames Valley Police, told Sky News: “Peter had wanted somebody to love all his life and he was now 68 and this wonderful young man came into his life and he had no reason to disbelieve him. “
Field laced his food and drinks with alcohol and drugs to confuse him, and the elderly man suffered several falls which required medical treatment during a campaign of mental and physical torture.
Mr Glover said : “Peter had a mobile phone. He would go to his mobile phone and for some reason all his contacts had been deleted and he couldn’t explain it.
” He would go to get his house keys or his car keys and could not find them. Items went missing all the time. Pictures got moved, all kinds of things. It was a bit like having a poltergeist in your house, I suppose. “
Mr Farquhar was found dead in his home in October 2015 – he was slumped on the sofa next to a half empty bottle of whiskey and an inquest concluded that the death was alcohol-related.
Field had killed him and successfully made it look like he had drunk himself to death, with police not treating it as murder until March 2017
Before the killing , Field had tried to drive Mr Farquhar to suicide by drugging him and encouraging him to drink.
He also gave him “10 Battle Raps “as a Christmas present – a collection of” extremely insulting “rhymes about the retired academic that he found deeply upsetting.
In response, Mr Farquhar wrote a poem in which he described Field as “laughably vain”, “deceptive and disloyal”, and as having a “poisoned head”.
Field – who grew up in Market Harborough, Leicestershire – collected £ 160, 000 from Mr Farquhar’s estate soon after his death.
Within a year he turned his attention to 83 -year-old retired headteacher Ann Moore-Martin, who lived three doors away, and persuaded her that he loved her and she gave him £ 30, 000.
She died in hospital of natural causes in May 2017, soon after the plot to defraud her was uncovered.
Despite a 55 – year age gap, he sent her letters and cards declaring his love, and gave her a framed photograph of himself which she kept in her bedroom.
Field, whose mother was a Liberal Democrat councillor, then convinced her that his brother was seriously ill and needed a dialysis machine costing £ 26, 000.
She withdrew her savings to pay for
When asked what happened to the money during his trial at Oxford Crown Court, Field replied: “Well I certainly didn’t buy a dialysis machine – I spent it.” )
Ms Moore-Martin was a devout Catholic and Field preyed on her beliefs.
He wrote messages on mirrors telling her what she should do, which she believed to be messages from God.
Field took photos of what he was doing to document his fraud, which were then used to prosecute him. Relatives of the pensioner became suspicious of their unusual relationship, but a legal coincidence helped uncover the fraud.
Ms Moore-Martin contacted a local solicitor to change her will to make Field a beneficiary, but it was the same solicitor who Mr Farquhar had used when he arranged for Field to inherit his property.
At trial he admitted seducing and defrauding her in a similar fashion to which he targeted Mr Farquhar.
Sentencing against Field – who was charged with Mr Smith last November – had been adjourned until after a pre-sentence psychiatric report was carried out.