Maids Moreton victim's fear: “It's like death is creeping along our houses one by one and if you look at it my house is next”
On day 14 of the Maids Moreton murder trial at Oxford Crown Court the prosecution called witnesses relating to the attempted murder of Ann Moore-Martin – and who's actions ultimately led to the arrests of Ben Field, Martyn Smith and Tom Field.
First was Anne-Marie Blake, Ms Moore-Martin's niece. Describing her relationship with her aunt, Ms Blake said: “Although she was my aunt, she was more like a mum and she was like a grandmother to my children.”
Describing her as “bubbly” and “full of life” she added: “She had a deep religion. Her faith gave her strength through some of the struggles that she went through – she had cancer, things like that.”
Ms Blake told the jury that Ms Moore-Martin became frightened after the death of Peter Farquhar, saying: “It's like death is creeping along our houses one by one and if you look at it my house is next.”
Ms Blake said that she would see her aunt most weekends up until when Ben Field became a part of Ms Moore-Martin's life.
Ms Blake said of this point in her aunt's life: “It was increasingly difficult to get access to her,” adding, “we started to get more concerned with the amount of time she was spending with someone who was a stranger to us.”
The niece described Ms Moore-Martin as “very much under his spell,” referring to Ben Field, and that Ms Moore-Martin said to her niece, “Ben told me you wouldn't understand.”
The prosecution alleges that Ben Field embarked upon a regime of “controlling, manipulating and humiliating” Ann Moore-Martin. This includes writing messages on the mirrors around her home, purportedly from God, and hiding items around her home.
Ms Blake explained to the jury: “The cleaner told me that there had been weird messages on the mirror by my aunt hadn't told me about it.”However, she said her aunt had told her the following: “I keep losing things. I put something down and when I go to get it again it's gone, but it's ok because Ben always finds it.”
On the 4 February 2017, Ann Moore-Martin had a seizure and was admitted to hospital. Ms Blake relayed what she described as a strange incident to the jury when she went to collect some things from her aunt's home that evening. She said that while her husband and her were in the house there was a knock at the door. It was Ben Field. She went on to say: “He made me feel like I was in his house. He hung his coat on the bannister. My husband and I just looked at each other. We hadn't invited him in. It was a really odd situation.”
The next day Anne-Marie Blake called the Police.
Mr Oliver Saxby QC for the prosecution said: “You spoke to the police because things didn't add up and there came to be an embargo on Ben Field seeing your aunt.”
The police also advised Ms Blake to tell Ben Field to collect his things from her aunt's house.
Ms Blake was present when Ben Field arrived with Martyn Smith in a van at Manor Park Road, where Ms Moore-Martin lived, to pick up his belongings.Ms Blake said she asked Ben Field some questions, including: “Have you been taking things from my aunt's house?”“Have you been accepting money from my aunt?”“Have you been trying to change my aunt's will?”Ms Blake told the court that Mr Field answered 'yes' to these questions.
While she was speaking to Ben Field, Ms Blake said that Martyn Smith was also present. She described he demeanour in the following manner: “He stood there smirking and laughing like it was some sort of joke, like he found the whole thing funny.”
During cross examination by David Jeremy QC defending Ben Field, Ms Blake told the court how her aunt felt when she realised that she had been manipulated by Mr Field. She said: “She found it incredibly difficult to get her head around the extent of the betrayal,” adding that her aunt said to her, “I'm such an intelligent woman, how could I let this happen to me?”
She was also asked if she thought her aunt had died of natural causes. Ms Blake replied: “I'd be amazed if she had.”Next the prosecution called Diana Davies, who was the solicitor who drafted the wills for both Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin.
Ms Davies began by describing to the court a series of events in August and September 2015 surrounding Mr Farquhar requesting revisions to his will, including an interest in his property at 3 Manor Park Road for Ben Field and small sums of money for both Ben Field and Martyn Smith: “Mr Farquhar was brought to the office by Mr Benjamin Field.”
She continued: “Mr Farquhar had come to me knowing what he wanted. He brought his 2014 will with him as a template to which he wanted to make revisions.”
She said that a few months after Mr Farquhar's death, in January 2016, Martyn Smith emailed her to ask when he was likely to get the money.Moving on to her involvement with Ann Moore-Martin, the solicitor said that Ms Moore-Martin had been a client since 2009.
She went on to describe how she told police she became concerned when Ms Moore-Martin requested revisions to her will in favour of Ben Field, particularly in light of what she knew with regards to Mr Field being a beneficiary of Peter Farquhar's will.
Diana Davies told the court that she went to Ann Moore-Martin's house on 20 October 2016 to discuss the will change and that Ben Field was present. She said: “She wanted to change her will. She said she wanted to change it in favour of Mr Field. I was uncomfortable to change it when the beneficiary was in close proximity.”
As a consequence Ms Moore-Martin visited Diana Davies at her office soon afterwards. It was at this meeting that she told the solicitor that she knew she was doing the right thing in leaving her house to Ben Field because of the messages on her mirrors.
She said: “She believed it to be the right thing to do and said she's had messages on her mirrors saying it was holy.”
The solicitor added: “She said that one of the messages said that God said he was pleased she was doing it.”
Ms Davies told the jury: “I was very worried about this course of action because of course I knew that Ben Field was a beneficiary of Peter Farquhar who lived up the road.”
Fast-forwarding to February 2017, after Ann Moore-Martin's first seizure and after the embargo had been put in place by the police to keep Ben Field away from Ms Moore-Martin, the solicitor explained that she visited Ms Moore-Martin and she had ripped up the letters directing the change of will.
Ms Davies told the court that she wrote down exactly what Ms Moore-Martin said to her: “Now you see me in my right mind – I have been manipulated.”
The final witness of the day was Liz Zettl, a 101-year-old friend of both Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin, who had defendant Martyn Smith as a tenant for just over a year at her Buckingham home.
Ben Field and Martyn Smith are charged with being in possession of her will for use in fraud.
Although she was present in court, much of her evidence was from three pre-recorded police interviews.
During one of the interviews she told police that about six weeks before Mr Farquhar passed away Ben told her that Martyn needed to move in to be able to sleep and study undisturbed. She said: “Ben said Peter was getting violent, knocking things over and hitting the boys.”
In the video played for the court the witness told the police that Mr Smith always paid his rent on time and described him as “Very kind, very gentle.”
She goes on to describe how she had typed her own will, explaining that she had been a typist when she was younger so it was easy for her to do.
In the interview the police asked if Ben Field or Martyn Smith were included in her will.Ms Zettl replied: “No.”
The police informed the witness that a copy of her will was found on Ben Field's computer at the University of Buckingham. They asked if there was any reason why he should have this.The witness replied: “No.”
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.