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Real churchwarden who murdered man from Sixth Commandment series has since tried to leave prison

Tom Wood

Published 
| Last updated 

The real-life murderer whose story was later turned into BBC’s hit crime drama The Sixth Commandment has tried to get out of prison since being locked up in 2019.

Benjamin Field was found guilty of the murder of teacher and academic Peter Farquhar in Buckinghamshire and sentenced to 36 years behind bars.

Field had managed to inveigle his way into the 69-year-old’s life and even managed to become the sole beneficiary of his will.

Peter Farquhar and Ben Field. Credit: Thames Valley Police
Peter Farquhar and Ben Field. Credit: Thames Valley Police
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Field gaslit Farquhar and made him think that he was losing his cognitive faculties with the druggings, as well as luring him into a relationship to get his house and money.

He spiked the older man’s whisky and drugged him, hoping that when he eventually died it would look like an accident or suicide.

After he died in 2015, Field then moved onto another neighbour - Ann Moore-Martin - gaslighting her and getting her to declare him in her will too.

She died of natural causes in 2017 and Field was charged with plotting her killing, though he was found not guilty.

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The whole story was recently brought to light once again after it was made into a BBC crime drama starring Timothy Spall and Éanna Hardwicke.

The former churchwarden has since filed two appeals against his conviction, with his barrister telling the Court of Appeal in 2021 that it was ‘unsafe’.

That appeal was dismissed by the court, and his second appeal began in 2022.

Barrister David Jeremy KC argued that in the trial the jury couldn’t find that Farquhar’s act of drinking the spiked whisky ‘was not autonomous’.

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He said: "Unable to make that finding, the court ought to have allowed the appeal, but instead it dismissed it."

Field was locked up for 36 years for Farquhar's murder. Credit: Thames Valley Police
Field was locked up for 36 years for Farquhar's murder. Credit: Thames Valley Police

He said that there was ‘much that can be said on Field’s behalf on the issue of causation’, adding that there was ‘no evidence that Mr Farquhar had been forced or tricked’ into taking the tranquillisers and alcohol.

Still, the appeal against the convictions has been lost on both occasions.

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In his original trial, Field was described by the judge as a ‘well-practiced and able liar’.

Mr Justice Sweeney added: "I have no doubt that you are a dangerous offender."

Mr Farquhar had been a part-time teacher at the University of Birmingham as well as having three novels published.

One of those books was even dedicated to Field, who gave a eulogy at his funeral.

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In the case of Moore-Martin, Field would write ‘messages from God’ on her mirrors in her house, and eventually the deeply religious woman changed her will to leave Field her home.

Timothy Spall and Éanna Hardwicke in The Sixth Commandment. Credit: BBC
Timothy Spall and Éanna Hardwicke in The Sixth Commandment. Credit: BBC

After Field was sentenced, Farquhar's brother Ian Farquhar said: "Ben Field is a deeply malevolent and thoroughly evil man who callously and greedily seduced his way into my brother's life.

"His sentence today brings some justice to this horrific event in our family's life.

“Though of course the wound will always remain.”

Mark Glover, from Thames Valley Police, said Field was ‘unlike any other criminal’ he’d ever seen.

"The extent of his planning, deception and cruelty towards his victims is frankly staggering, and I do not believe he has ever shown an ounce of remorse or contrition," he added.

"If he is sorry for anything it is that he got caught."

Topics: UK News, Crime, True Crime, TV and Film, BBC

Tom Wood
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