Monday 24 June 2019

'Murder plot' man (28) wrote love poems to elderly spinster as part of 'gaslighting' campaign, court hears

Thames Valley Police undated handout photo of a photograph of Benjamin Field in a frame. Photo: Thames Valley Police/PA Wire
Thames Valley Police undated handout photo of a photograph of Benjamin Field in a frame. Photo: Thames Valley Police/PA Wire

Rod Minchin, Press Association

A church warden in England declared his love in a series of letters and poems for a retired teacher 57 years his senior as part of a campaign of "gaslighting", a court heard.

Benjamin Field, 28, sent 83-year-old Ann Moore-Martin letters, postcards and poems speaking of his love and discussing marriage during a year-long seduction.

The Baptist minister's son, then aged 26, wrote of his "desire to woo" the elderly spinster but also confessed to seeing other women.

He even gave her a framed photograph of himself, with the inscription "I am always with you", which Miss Moore-Martin used as part of a "shrine" to him on her bedroom dressing table.

Oxford Crown Court heard the defendant had been introduced to her by neighbour, university lecturer Peter Farquhar, 69, who Field was lodging with.

In one letter Field writes: "I am not sure that I have been as candid and forthright as I should have been in my poems and our conversations.

"We have, from time to time, spoken of marriage and loneliness and of beauty.

"When these things have crossed our minds and lips I have been a great deal too shy. I have not said, as perhaps I should, that I desire you, and desire to woo you; that my earnest hope is that you would see me as I see you; I see you as a beautiful, fun, lovely insightful woman of faith and grace."

The letter continues: "My first poem to you is a courtly overture of sorts, an invitation to romance and a declaration of my love and intent.

"Every time I have come to your house I have taken some things away with me. I have taken joy away in my breast pocket, close to my heart; I have smuggled your words out with me under my hat, close to my head; and I have carried the image of your gorgeous face with me in my trouser pockets.

"I would like to take some other things as well. I would like to take away your tiredness, your loneliness and your sadness. I am sure that I could, if you allow it, these things would need to be replaced.

"Your loneliness must be replaced with my company; your tiredness with my energy; and your sadness with our new happiness together."

The jury was also shown a photograph Field had secretly taken on his mobile phone of Miss Moore-Martin performing a sex act upon him.

He has admitted fraudulently beginning a relationship with Miss Moore-Martin as part of a plot to get her to change her will but he denies conspiring with his friend Martyn Smith, 32, to murder her.

The pensioner, who had told family she loved Field, died in May 2017 from natural causes.

Prosecutors allege Field targeted Miss Moore-Martin a few months after allegedly murdering Mr Farquhar in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire.

He and Smith, a magician, are accused of plotting to make the church-going pensioner's death an accident, such as dying during sex, falling down the stairs and choking on her dentures, or suicide, having got her to change her will.

Field has admitted defrauding Miss Moore-Martin of £4,000 to buy a car but he denies, along with his brother Tom Field, 24, and Smith, of defrauding her of £27,000 to buy a dialysis machine.

They claimed that Tom Field was seriously ill and needed the hi-tech equipment to help him study at Cambridge University, otherwise he would die.

As part of the dialysis fraud, Benjamin Field is accused of writing messages with white marker pens on mirrors in the deeply religious Miss Moore-Martin's home purporting to be from God.

Field and Smith deny charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and possession of an article for the use in fraud.

Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, also denies an alternative charge of attempted murder. But he has admitted four charges of fraud and two of burglary.

In addition Smith, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, denies two charges of fraud and one of burglary.

Tom Field, also of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire denies a single charge of fraud.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

Press Association

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