Maids Moreton killer Benjamin Field
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Ben Field: The Maids Moreton murderer’s chilling crimes revisited on BBC One

The would-be vicar killed Peter Farquhar and preyed on Ann Moore-Martin...

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Ben Field was a churchwarden who murdered elderly teacher Peter Farquhar and preyed on his neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, but where is the Maids Moreton murderer now?

He manipulated the vulnerable and elderly purely for his own financial gain in some of the most sickening crimes of recent years.

Channel 4 previously examined his disgusting crimes in Catching A Killer. Unsurprisingly perhaps, BBC One have also re-examined the chilling case in the upcoming dramatisation The Sixth Commandment.

Here’s everything you need to know about the shocking case.

Benjamin Field duped Peter Farquhar into a fake relationship
Benjamin Field duped Peter Farquhar into a fake relationship – and then killed him (Credit: Thames Valley Police)

Who is Ben Field and what did he do?

Ben Field was a would-be vicar and academic, who lived in Maids Moreton. He met inspirational academic and former English teacher, Peter Farquhar, and played the role of charismatic student.

At the time, onlookers might have considered author Peter as isolated and lonely. Ben soon became a crutch for him to rely on more and more. The pair eventually became lovers. However, Ben tragically began a campaign of gaslighting, abuse and manipulation for his own gains – Peter’s inheritance.

When Peter Farquhar died at the age of 69, police believed it was unfortunate but not criminal. Peter’s death initially appeared to be an accident until it emerged that it was something far more sinister.

Police uncovered a more chilling tale when Peter’s deeply religious neighbour Ann Moore-Martin died shortly after. Police soon discovered that Ben Field had recently become part of both of their lives and benefited from their wills.

Ben Field’s campaign of manipulation and abuse

Ben Field duped Peter Farquhar into a fake relationship to get the author to change his will. Peter eventually made Ben the main beneficiary.

University lecturer Peter Farquhar and Ben Field had undergone a “betrothal” ceremony shortly before Ben killed him.

The trial heard how Ben Field carried out a sustained “gaslighting” plot aimed at making Peter Farquhar question his sanity.

Ben topped up Mr Farquhar’s drinks with bioethanol and poteen, a high strength Irish alcohol. He also laced Peter’s food with drugs in the lead up to his death in 2015.

Ben Field mugshot
Ben Field mugshot: Churchwarden was eventually charged with murder (Credit: Thames Valley Police)

How and why did Ben Field kill Peter Farquhar?

Peter had previously been a man in good health, until he met Ben Field. On October 26, 2015, he died after a long period of distressing confusion and illness. It later emerged that he had been poisoned by the man he loved, Benjamin Field, who was left Peter’s house in his will.

Thames Valley Police began to investigate after doubts were raised about the cause of Peter Farquhar’s death. Detectives interviewed Peter’s family members, including Peter’s brother, his friends, and eventually Ben Field.

Police subsequently exhumed Peter’s body so scientists could trace whatever had been used to kill him. They discovered that Ben drugged Mr Farquhar’s drinks with bioethanol and poteen, a high strength Irish alcohol. His food was laced with drugs.

Jurors were told Ben Field “suffocated Peter” when he was too weak to resist, and left a half-empty bottle of whisky beside his lifeless body to create the misconception he had drunk himself to death.

Tragically, during the trial, it transpired that churchwarden Benjamin Field had murdered Peter to inherit his estate. Ben duped 69-year-old Peter Farquhar into a fake relationship to get him to change his will.

Tragically, Mr Farquhar died in the Buckinghamshire village of Maids Moreton in October 2015. Ben tried to make his death look like an accident or suicide. In the trial, Peter’s daily journals were crucial evidence.

Using extracts from the late Peter’s diary, Thames Valley Police were able to piece together what happened and close-in on the cold killer.

Ben Field ‘tormented’ Peter Farquhar

Giving evidence at his trial, Ben Field said he started drugging the university lecturer with benzodiazepines before switching to hallucinogenic legal highs.

He told the jury at Oxford Crown Court he did it “for no other reason other than it was cruel, to upset and torment Peter – purely out of meanness”.

He continued: “What I did was completely unacceptable, despicable and wicked and in no way reflective of anything he had done to me.”

The court heard that Ben Field also encouraged Mr Farquhar to drink more alcohol while he was taking sleeping tablets.

He said: “It was a reckless thing but at the time I didn’t think it was a terribly reckless thing to do for him.”

In 2015, Ben Field decided to move out of Peter Farquhar’s home. He went to live with Ann Moore-Martin who lived three doors away.

He said he left Mr Farquhar’s home because he knew he was treating him badly and would rather leave than be nice to him.

Telling the jury why he decided to live with Miss Moore-Martin, Ben Field said: “Early on I saw her as someone I could benefit from.”

He admitted “gaslighting” and fraudulently being in relationships with both Miss Moore-Martin and Mr Farquhar to inherit from their wills.

Mr Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin were both killed by Ben Field
Ben Field killed Mr Farquhar and preyed on Ann Moore-Martin (Credit: YouTube)

Did Ben Field kill Ann Moore-Martin?

Peter Farquhar died in October 2015, and then Ben Field embarked on a sexual relationship with his neighbour, 87-year-old retired head mistress Ann Moore-Martin.

Police suspected that Ben was guilty of plotting to kill Mr Farquhar’s neighbour Ann, who lived three doors away. However, a jury found him not guilty of killing Ann.

Miss Moore-Martin died of natural causes in May 2017, Ben Field was accused of plotting to kill her, but was found not guilty.

Before her death, Ben attempted to get Miss Moore-Martin to change her will by writing “messages from God” on mirrors around her home. He subjected her to the same campaign of psychological manipulation, known as gaslighting.

The deeply religious retired teacher who never married or had children, later changed her will to leave her home to Ben Field. A jury heard Mrs Moore-Martin acted if she was “hypnotised” by him.

Where is Ben Field now?

Ben Field is currently in jail. A jury found Ben guilty of murder at Oxford Crown Court on August 09, 2019. The Baptist’s son earlier pleaded guilty to three offences of fraud and two of burglary.

The court heard how Ben Field carried out a sustained “gaslighting” plot aimed at making Mr Farquhar question his sanity.

Ben drugged Mr Farquhar’s drinks with bioethanol and poteen, a high strength Irish alcohol, and his food was laced with drugs. Jurors were told Ben “suffocated him” when he was too weak to resist.

The judge sentenced Ben to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 36 years on October 18, 2019. Mr Justice Sweeney said the criminal was a “well-practiced and able liar”, adding: “I have no doubt that you are a dangerous offender.”

In March 2021, Ben lost his appeal to have his murder conviction overturned. His barrister previously argued the conviction was “unsafe” as the trial judge misdirected the jury. But the Court of Appeal has upheld his conviction.

Peter Farquhar pictured with heavy bruising around the eyes
Mr Farquhar would often fall over after being drugged by Field, the trial heard (Credit: Thames Valley Police)

Ben Field “showed no remorse”

Killer Ben Field reportedly showed “no remorse” during his trial and after.  Ian Farquhar, the victim’s brother, said in a statement: “Ben Field is a deeply malevolent and thoroughly evil man who callously and greedily seduced his way into my brother’s life.

“His sentence brings some justice to this horrific event in our family’s life. Though of course the wound will always remain.”

Mark Glover, of Thames Valley Police, said Ben was “unlike any other criminal” he had encountered in his 31-year career.

He said: “The extent of his planning, deception and cruelty towards his victims is frankly staggering, and I do not believe he has ever shown an ounce of remorse or contrition.

“If he is sorry for anything it is that he got caught.”

During the trial, expert testimony predicted Ben “would kill again”. Jurors heart that the church warden drew up a list of 100 future “targets”, including his own parents.

Catching a Killer on Channel 4

When elderly teacher Peter Farquhar was found dead at home in the village of Maids Moreton in 2015, it was sad and unexpected… But no one thought it suspicious until, 18 months later, his neighbour Ann Moore-Martin also fell ill and died.

The two deaths prompted a police investigation.

Eventually, they found that Ben Field, a would-be vicar and academic, had recently become part of both of their lives and benefited from their wills.

Catching A Killer on Channel 4 showed that, by delving back in time through friends’ and loved ones’ memories of Peter and Ben’s relationship, as well as Peter’s diary, the police discovered a story of love and betrayal.

The documentary originally aired in January 2020. Viewers were horrified by the actions of convicted murderer Ben Field after watching the show.

They took to Twitter to talk about how tragic the story was, describing it as “emotional”, “heartbreaking” and sensitively handled by the filmmakers.

Ben Field wrote 'messages from God' on mirrors
Ben Field wrote ‘messages from God’ on mirrors (Credit: Thames Valley Police)

New factual drama The Sixth Commandment on BBC One

The Sixth Commandment is a four-part dramatisation which explores the deaths of Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire.

Timothy Spall stars as Peter Farquhar, Anne Reid plays Ann Moore-Martin, and Éanna Hardwicke portrays sick killer Ben Field.

Meanwhile, Annabel Scholey is Ann’s niece, Ann-Marie Blake, Sheila Hancock stars as Liz Zettl, and Ben Bailey Smith plays Simon Blake.

The Sixth Commandment tells the story of how the meeting of an inspirational teacher, Peter Farquhar, and a charismatic student, Ben Field, set the stage for one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory.

It also focuses on how suspicions around Field’s relationship with Ann Moore-Martin, Peter’s deeply religious neighbour, unlocked a series of chilling revelations.

The Sixth Commandment explores the way in which both Peter and Ann were manipulated by Field. Scriptwriters want to capture the extreme gaslighting, the gripping police investigation, and the high-profile trial. The series also aims to highlight the devastating effect of isolation and loneliness, as Ben Field closed in on them.

Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin’s families cooperated fully with the series.

Episode 4 of The Sixth Commandment airs on Tuesday July 25 frm 9pm on BBC One. 

Read more: Baby Reindeer on Netflix: New series based on disturbing true crime

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Helen Fear
TV Editor