When Ben Field, a 26-year-old preacher’s son, first met Peter Farquhar, 66, he says he had one thing on his mind: the older man’s money.
Field, along with 31-year-old magician Martyn Smith, is on trial for Farquhar’s murder in a British courtroom and testified for the first time this week, admitting that he lied to “gaslight” Farquhar. The men are also on trial for attempting to murder Ann Moore-Martin, a never-married 83-year-old retired headmistress described as lonely.
Field, now 28, told Oxford Crown Court he was in sexual relationships with both of the elderly retirees, and admits lying to get them to change their wills to leave everything to him, which both did. But he said he did not kill them. Farquhar died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 69 in 2015 and Moore-Martin died of complications of unexplained seizures at the age of 83 two years later.
“The essential lie was that I loved him and that his feelings beyond the platonic were reciprocated by me,” Field told the court, according to local press outlets. “They were not.”
When Field’s defense attorney David Jeremy asked his client why he chose Farquhar as his victim, the younger man stared straight ahead, according to press reports. “To irritate him,” he said. “I did it vindictively.”
Field, who journaled and messaged Smith about a string of sexual relationships with young women during the time he was Farquhar’s live-in lover, admitted to preying on the older man’s insecurities, especially when it came to his sexuality. Farquhar was a deeply religious closeted gay man who only came out when he started the faux romance with Field. The two were joined in a secret bonding ceremony in March 2014.
Field does not identify as gay or bisexual, but engaged in romantic interludes with Farquhar for the purpose of swindling him, he admitted. He said he had also prostituted himself five occasions, receiving oral sex from men he met on Craigslist who paid between £30 and £50.
When Jeremy asked about his perception of the sexual encounters, Field said he found them, “neither pleasurable or objectionable.”
“Money was a secondary thing,” he told the court. “It was to push my own boundaries. I was trying to do something that I found transgressive to test myself.”
With regard to Farquhar, he said that he did not really like the elderly man. “I have mixed feelings,” Field told the court, according to transcripts. “I had a great deal of affection for him as a friend but I also found aspects of him dislikeable.”
Field was asked point-blank if he killed Farquhuar.
“Did you suffocate him, Peter Farquhar?” the defense lawyer asked. “Administering drugs and gaslighting him? Did you intend to kill him?”
Field responded, “I did not.”
Field was then asked whether he killed Moore-Martin, whom he admittedly also romanced. “Did you conspire to murder Ann Moore-Martin?” the defense attorney asked. “Did you attempt to murder Ann Moore-Martin? Give her drugs or tried to poison her? Encouraged or assisted her to commit suicide?”
Field said that he did not kill or conspire to kill Moore-Martin, but that “on several occasions” he did speak to the elderly woman about suicide in hopes she might be triggered.
The preacher’s son started courting Moore-Martin, who lived two houses down the block from Farquhar, after the elderly man died. Field told the court that he worked hard to convince her that he had genuine romantic feelings for her to get her to believe that they "were in a genuine romantic relationship,” according to the BBC.
“I was pretending to have a real relationship with her, that was false,” he told the court, adding that his sole purpose was “to gain from her, to get her to change her will and, when she died, to inherit from her.”
Field’s younger brother is also on trial for pretending to need a kidney dialysis machine for which they bilked the older woman. Jeremy asked his client about the $33,000 Moore-Martin gave him to buy the medical equipment. Field confirmed to the court that he did in fact lie. Asked what he did with the money, he said: “Well I certainly didn’t buy a dialysis machine...I spent it.”
Field was then pressed by his own defense attorney about his own “short list” of real relationships. “They’ve all been colored by deception by me,” Field said. “I’ve deceived absolutely everyone that I’ve ever had a relationship with.”
“I think the most common kind of deception by me is to pretend that I’m other than I am—that I’m better. I feel inadequate so it’s pleasing to pretend to be someone else.”