Court hears how men duped pensioner and planned her death as prosecution makes case at fourth day of Maids Moreton trial

Ann Moore-Martin
Ann Moore-Martin

On day 4 of the trial at Oxford Crown Court, Oliver Saxby QC continued to lay out the prosecution case.

He began by explaining that even while waiting for the inheritance from Peter Farquhar, the defendants attention had turned to Ann Moore-Martin - who was Peter’s neighbour in Manor Park Maids Moreton.

Ben Field, the prosecution said, had “a breathtaking series of notes in which he broke down his strategy towards her.”

The jury heard that flash cards to this end were found at the house of a friend of Ben Field.

There was also a book by the Spanish writer Baltasar Gracián called ‘A Guide of How to Use Your Enemies’ or “how to manipulate people” Mr Saxby suggested to the jury.

According to the prosecution, Ben Field's notes show various lists had been made of how Ann Moore-Martin might die. These included 'falling down the stairs' and 'drowning in the bath', as well as 'choking on dentures' and 'sex'.

Mr Saxby added: “He seriously regarded as one way of killing her was having vigorous sexual activity with her.”

Also found in Ben Field's notes was a list of names that the prosecution believes were potential future fraud victims. Mr Saxby pointed to the fact that it appears his brother and co-defendant, Tom Field, is on the list. He is included merely as 'Tom’.

Mr Saxby said: “One needn't think he'd worry about exploiting his own family as at number 24 and 25 on the list he has granny and granddad.”

The prosecution moved on to detail the seduction of Ann Moore-Martin.

It began, the prosecution said, with gifts and poetry. They presented evidence of Google searches by Ben Field such as 'seduce old woman poem’ and 'sonnet to an octogenarian’.

Mr Saxby said that she became utterly infatuated with Ben Field. Her sister-in-law told police “she was like a love-struck teenager.”

As a point of contact with the extent of her romantic obsession with Ben Field, he gave her a 'tally counter' and told her to click it each time she thought of him. In various letters between the pair she wrote “click, click” with reference to this.

It was at this point the prosecutions says that Ben Field, aged 26 at the time, covertly took photos of Ann Moore-Martin, aged 83, performing a sex act on him.

The Crown’s case is that these were for potential use in blackmailing Ms Moore-Martin.

In order to convince the 83-year-old to change her will in his favour, the court heard that Ben Field wrote a journal called 'A Letter To The Saints' of which it was intended Ms Moore-Martin would find and read.

The journal is a litany of illusions of God, interwoven with how important Ann Moore-Martin's house was to Ben Field, how it represented their love in his mind, and how he could not live without it.

“God has given me a vision that when I have no place to go I will take my life,” he wrote.

It was however the prosecution argued, “the mirror writing that sealed the deal.”

Ben Field embarked on what the prosecution had previously described as a "mirror-writing campaign" to convince the deeply religious Ann Moore-Martin that God was telling her to change her will in favour of Ben Field.

One message written by Ben Field on a mirror in Ann’s home, said: “Ben makes you whole. Give to him and you will receive greatly.”

Ben Field took pictures of himself writing these messages, which the court was shown.

Mr Saxby said that defendant two, Martyn Smith, implicated himself in the plan to psychologically manipulate Ms Moore-Martin into changing her will and committing suicide specifically (though not exclusively) via a series of text messages between himself and Ben Field.

When Ben Field texted Smith about implanting the thought of suicide in Ms Moore-Martin's mind, Smith replied: “Ha ha.”

Later Smith texted Field: “What will you be up to tonight – more mirror work?”

With regards to Ann Moore-Martin changing her will, Ben Field at some point became aware that she was using the same solicitor, Diana Davies, as Peter Farquhar had, and was concerned the latter might become suspicious.

In his journal he wrote: “Problem; DD will tell AMM about PF.”

As a solution he wrote: “Get rid of DD.”

Mr Saxby commented: “It sounds fanciful that he might try something regarding the solicitor but I'm afraid regarding the first defendant this is rooted in reality.”

It was in relation to Ann Moore-Martin also that the third defendant, Tom Field, stands accused of fraud. The trio had set out to convince Ms Moore-Martin that Tom Field required a dialysis machine for a kidney disorder.

Mr Saxby said of Tom Field: “His involvement was only a peripheral one but it was nonetheless a dishonest one.”

He went on to explain how Tom Field was presented to Ann Moore-Martin at a lunch at a garden centre in Buckingham. In a statement to the police before she died, Ms Moore-Martin said:

“He looked like he was dying.”

The prosecution argues that his role in acting unwell in the presence of Ms Moore-Martin was crucial in convincing her to part with almost £27,000.

Benjamin Field, aged 28, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, and Martyn Smith, aged 32, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall have been charged with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of conspiracy to defraud, three counts of fraud, one count of being in possession of an article for use in fraud, two counts of burglary.

Ben Field is charged with one further count of fraud.

Tom Field, aged 24, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, is also charged with one count of fraud.

The trial continues.