This week the jury heard closing arguments from the prosecution and defence barristers in the Maids Moreton murder trial at Oxford Crown Court.
This week the jury heard the closing arguments from the prosecution and defence barristers in the Maids Moreton murder trial at Oxford Crown Court.
On Monday the prosecution began the summing up of its case against Ben Field, Martyn Smith and Tom Field in court room one at Oxford Crown Court.
After Judge Sweeney had given 90 minutes worth of legal direction, Oliver Saxby QC rose to address the jury.
Reflecting over the past 10 weeks of the trial, and all of the evidence presented, Mr Saxby told the jurors:
“Each one of you is now in a position to see the wood through the trees,” adding, “It is your task to decide guilt or innocence.”
Mr Saxby also warned the jury:
“Their best chance lies in you losing perspective,” and said the jurors must guard against “being drawn into examining evidence out of context.”
Mr Saxby went on to clarify:
“This case isn't about the advocates. It isn't about the personalities. It's about the evidence.”
Referring to Ben Field, the lead counsel for the crown told the court:
“Some of the things he's admitted doing are almost beyond belief,” but suggested that the defence had made great play of their client's cruelty “presumably to make the point that he drugged Peter Farquhar for the hell of it.”
Mr Saxby described Ben Field as:
“Greedy in terms of power and self-importance,” “a sadist who inflicted pain because he enjoyed it,” and someone who is “capable of casting a spell on people.”
In support of these statements, Oliver Saxby reminded the jury that Mr Field's plans were not against faceless corporations over the internet but rather:
“They were real plans with real victims, involving face to face deceit.”
Further to this Mr Saxby said that communications show the plans did not stop at fraud. Pointing specifically toward a text from Tom Field to Ben Field which read:
“You can nudge into wills, you can be a dying persons carer but that is where it has to stop.”
Saxby asked the jury: “Well what else is there?”
On Wednesday, the defence for Ben Field gave their summary of the evidence.
Mr David Jeremy QC, defending Ben Field, began:
“I regard it as a privilege to represent Ben Field.”
While acknowledging that, “he has committed crimes that go beyond the ordinary,” he said:
“We have a responsibility to give a defendant, even Ben Field, a fair trial,” adding, “even Ben Field is someone's son and someone's brother.”
Of the alleged murder of Peter Farquhar, Mr Jeremy told the jury:
“The fact is that based on all the medical evidence, Peter Farquhar could have died from taking his normal dose of flurazepam and drinking too much.”
Of the alleged attempted murder of Ann Moore-Martin, the defence insisted:
“The prosecution has struggled to float the possibility that Ben Field poisoned her.”
Mr Jeremy conceded that Ben Field “may have discussed or encouraged suicide,” but said:
“None of that would make Ben Field guilty of murder.”
David Jeremy QC told the court:
“The truth in this case may not be Ben Field's truth but it is demonstrably not the prosecutions truth either.”
Mr Jeremy asked the jury to consider:
“To what extent should we take literally what he said in his note books, is there really reliable evidence that Ben Field was present when Peter Farquhar died, and does the prosecution evidence show clearly that he was trying to persuade Ann Moore-Martin to commit suicide?”
Mr Jeremy said that Ben Field's motives were power and control. He said:
“He needed to deceive and manipulate to make him feel good about himself,” noting that:
“He couldn't share that pleasure but sharing wasn't what he needed.”
Moving on to the case against Ben Field with regard to the alleged murder of Peter Farquhar, David Jeremy QC explained that the relationship between Ben and Peter was more complicated than the prosecution had alluded. He said:
“It was sincere and profound on Ben Field's part,” adding, “They were two odd people united by their oddness.”
Mr Jeremy told the jury:
“The possibility of cruelty but also grieving loss is not only possible but it becomes entirely logical and credible once you know who Ben Field was.”
The defence now turned to dispute the alleged modus operandi of Ben Field by the prosecution – namely that he had been trying to lay the foundation for an explanation of Peter Farquhar's death since the start of 2015.
Mr Jeremy made the case to the court that the prosecution claim that Ben Field had been trying to make people believe that Peter Farquhar was an alcoholic so that his imminent death would not seem suspicious made no sense.
Mr Jeremy began by pointing toward the will change by Peter Farquhar in November 2014 that left 3 Manor Park to Ben Field, but under the condition that Ben would have lived at his home for two years before Mr Farquhar died.
The court was told that Ben Field became a permanent resident at 3 Manor Park on 24 November 2013, and so if Peter died before 24 November 2015 then Ben Field would not benefit fully from his will.
The prosecution allege that Ben Field, together with Martyn Smith, murdered Peter Farquhar on 25 October, 2015. They further suggest that Ben Field may not have known about the 24 month clause in Peter's will.
The defence produced evidence from Ben Field's notes where he had written of his hopes to inherit by “abiding by the 24 month condition” or “by civil partnership.”
Mr Jeremy said this proves that Ben Field knew he could not inherit if Peter Farquhar died in October 2015.
The court heard that, rather than a narrative to imply Peter Farquhar was an alcoholic, with a view to covering up the real cause of his death, the narrative of drugging Peter Farquhar with sedatives and hallucinogens is one to give the impression that Peter Farquhar was suffering from dementia so that he would be moved into a care home, and that Ben Field's plan regarding the inheritance was simply to wait for the natural passage of time.
Mr Jeremy said:
“The dementia narrative in the prosecution's own evidence had an entirely different purpose. It was designed to get him into a care home.”
“It is an attempt to solve Ben Field's problem of wanting to inherit but not wanting to live with Peter Farquhar. As ugly as it is, it is nothing to do with covering up pre-meditated murder.”
The defence further suggested that not only was there in fact not a credible alcoholic narrative but that it would not have even been necessary since it was well-documented that Peter Farquhar was, as a friend described on the witness stand earlier in the trial, “a steady but not heavy drinker.”
The court also heard that Peter Farquhar had admitted to a doctor that he was drinking approximately 42 units of alcohol a week – twice the recommended limit.
Mr Jeremy asked the jury to consider the following questions:
“If you're planning to murder Peter Farquhar with alcohol, why do you need to create an alcoholic's narrative at all because the facts were Peter liked to drink?
“Why put him into a care home if you're building up a alcoholic's narrative?
“Why kill in October when the 24 month condition expires in November?”
Mr Jeremy insisted to the jury that sense could only be made of this if Ben Field knew the details of Peter Farquhar's final will change in September 2015, where the 24 month condition was removed, but said “there is no evidence he knew about that will change.”
In summarising his dismissal of the prosecution's case against his client, Mr Jeremy told the court that the prosecution says Mr Farquhar was murdered by either drink, drugs or smothering and that they say don't have to prove which of these it is so long as the jury is convinced it's one of them.
Mr Jeremy said:
“It gives you a fair clue as to the state of their case that they don't have a clue how he was murdered.”
Mr Jeremy suggested that the prosecution had settled on 'smothering' as a potential method of murder because “it's the mechanism for killing that isn't ruled out by the evidence.”
Of the alleged attempted murder of Ann Moore-Martin, Mr Jeremy said:
“He was trying to persuade her to commit suicide so he could benefit from her will – awful, cynical but not actually murder.”
Mr Jeremy asked the jury to recall that no drugs has been found in Ann Moore-Martin's system, and that in her own evidence before her death she had not said that Ben Field was giving her drugs.
Mr Jeremy told the jury that the prosecution was trying to convince them that Ben Field was “a weirdo” and thus they should convict him.
Mr Jeremy concluded:
“We have nothing to fear from the evidence in this case.”
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. The jury is expected to retire to consider their verdicts on Friday.