Accused denies murder and involvement of co-defendant at Maids Moreton murder trial
Murder accused Ben Field went under cross examination by prosecution barrister Oliver Saxby QC in the Maids Moreton trial at Oxford Crown Court.
Early on in the hearing on June 27, the pair had to be reminded by Judge Sweeney that the court was not a debating chamber. During this intervention, as Mr Field attempted to interject, Mr Sweeney said, “please be quiet.”
As Oliver Saxby QC for the prosecution worked through the various incidents leading up to Peter Farquhar's death, Mr Field was asked how he explained Mr Farquhar's recovery when he was in hospital and then a care home.
Mr Field replied: “I wouldn't say it was a coincidence. If you're not walking around then you're less likely to fall and if you're staying in one room you're less likely to lose things.”
Moving on to the weekend that Mr Farquhar died, Mr Saxby queried Ben Field about his plan to catch out the former lecturer at the University of Buckingham with respect to the drinking problem that the defendant says he had.
With a suggestion that it was far from foolproof, Oliver Saxby asked Mr Field if his plan was to simply give Martyn Smith, his co-defendant in the alleged murder of Peter Farquhar, a bottle of whiskey and hope he left it somewhere that Mr Farquhar would find it and then drink it.
Mr Field said: “This wasn’t something I thought through at length. It wasn’t a brilliant scheme.”
Oliver Saxby asked Mr Field why he didn’t just leave the bottle of whiskey at the house himself.
Mr Field responded: “This way I got to appear generous to Martyn as well.”
Oliver Saxby then questioned Mr Field as to why he called Peter Farquhar’s house after he left there when, as the prosecution alleges, Mr Farquhar was already dead.
Mr Field replied: “To see if he’d taken the bait. To see if he’d had a drink.”
The prosecution then asked the defendant why there was any need for Martyn Smith to “babysit” Mr Farquhar on the day of October 25 when he had appeared to be back to his normal self.
Mr Field said: “It was something we had been doing for quite a few months and Peter liked it.”
Mr Saxby retorted: “Your plan was to kill him but to make it look like an alcoholic’s death – do you deny that?”
Mr Field replied: “I deny that, yes.”
“You couldn’t admit you’d given him the alcohol but you wanted him to die,” Mr Saxby said.
“I didn’t want him to die,” Mr Field responded.
“So you come across this elaborate plan – as a plan it wouldn’t be a bad one, would it?” Mr Saxby suggested.
Mr Field replied: “It wasn’t a plan I made.”
Referring to Martyn Smith, Mr Saxby said: “He was in on how the bottle got there, wasn’t he?”
Mr Field replied: “No.”
Mr Saxby continued: “You’re disowning the plan to exculpate Martyn.”
Mr Field replied: “No.”
Mr Saxby said: “I’m not saying you care for Martyn Smith but it makes you sound a little better.”
Ben Field replied: “None of that is true.”
It is the prosecution’s case that Mr Farquhar was already dead when Ben Field left 3 Manor Park on the evening of October 25, 2015.
Mr Farquhar’s body was found on the morning of October 26 by his cleaner, and so Mr Field asserts that since he was with Mr Farquhar until quite late on the evening of October 25, Mr Farquhar probably died on October 26.
However, in one of his journal notes, Mr Field had written that Peter Farquhar died on October 25.
Mr Saxby asked: “Why did you make that mistake?”
Mr Field replied: “Are you asking why I made a typing mistake?”
Mr Saxby said: “Could you answer the question.”
Mr Field responded: “I don’t remember typing it so I’m not sure what I was thinking.”
Mr Saxby said: “Of this charge, you are trying to get away with it.”
Mr Field replied: “Only because I didn’t do it.”
After lunch, the prosecution turned to the charges relating to Ann Moore-Martin.
Mr Saxby, focusing on Ann Moore-Martin’s declining health in early 2017, questioned Ben Field about how he thought his involvement with her affected her health.
Referencing their sexual activity, Mr Saxby said: “Do you think that didn’t have an effect on her?”
Ben Field responded: “I think it’s a very limited connection. There were physical acts between us that affected her body.”
Oliver Saxby asked: “Do you think what you did caused her to become unwell?”
Mr Field replied: “No, I reject that wholly.”
Mr Saxby then asked Mr Field about the meaning of a journal entry that read: “I met Ann at number six. Finally acting on that.”
Mr Field explained the note as “finally acting on the impulse to leave 3 Manor Park.”
Mr Saxby asked Mr Field what his “end game” was.
Ben Field replied: “Having defrauded her, to leave the situation. To rip her off and move on.”
“What would have to happen for you to profit?” Mr Saxby inquired.
Mr Field said: “She’d have to die.”
Mr Saxby asked: “Was that the end game?”
Ben Field responded:
Mr Saxby asked Ben Field, who was 26 at the time, about his sexual relationship with Ms Moore-Martin, who was 83.
“Who initiated sex?” Mr Saxby asked.
Ben Field said: “She did.”
Mr Saxby asked the defendant how Ms Moore-Martin initiated sex.
Mr Field said that the pair had engaged in sexual activity a handful of times, but denied that they had full sexual intercourse.
The jury also heard that computer records showed that Mr Field had searched online for a certain type of sex toy, which the prosecution alleges was for Ms Moore-Martin.
Oliver Saxby said: “You thought it was a way to bring about a heart attack. Is that true?”
Ben Field said: “No, that isn’t true.”
Returning the involvement of Martyn Smith, as the prosecution alleges and which he denies, Mr Saxby asked Ben Field what his friend said when he found out he was having a relationship with an 83-year-old woman.
Mr Field told the court that Martyn Smith said “fair enough”, adding “he wasn’t very interested.”
Mr Saxby asked: “Do you think he thought you had anything to do with Peter’s death?”
Ben Field replied: “No.”
While travelling, Mr Field asked Martyn Smith to post pre-written letters to Ann Moore-Martin on a daily basis.
Mr Saxby asked: “Why involve Martyn?”
Mr Field answered: “For the sake of convenience and I thought it not terribly risky.”
Oliver Saxby suggested: “Or else you’re both in it together.”
Ben Field denied the assertion.
Mr Saxby continued: “If you admit his complicity in the will fraud you’re admitting his involvement in the attempt to murder Ann Moore-Martin.”
Mr Field again denied it.
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.