Detective reveals how Ben Field's own diaries helped nail him
Detective who brought murderer Ben Field to justice and was immortalised in BBC drama The Sixth Commandment reveals how the killer’s own diaries helped nail him from beyond the grave
Peter Farquhar was a 44-year-old English teacher at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire when he started a diary more than three decades ago.
On New Year’s Day 1990, he quoted the Greek philosopher Socrates’ adage that ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’ and resolved to ‘write a few lines when possible each night’. It was the beginning of a meticulous record of his life.
Soon, the confirmed bachelor was writing about loneliness and the ‘black hole where strong emotional relationships should be’.
And, as the Mail reveals today, when Peter was murdered in October 2015, the 62 blue hardback A4 journals he had filled with neat handwriting played a pivotal role in putting his killer behind bars.
Between their covers lay the academic’s innermost thoughts, his struggle to reconcile his religious beliefs with his attraction to men and, above all, details of his ill-fated relationship with evil Ben Field.
Peter Farquhar (left) was a 44-year-old English teacher at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire when he started a diary more than three decades ago. When he was murdered in 2015, the journals helped putting his killer Ben Field (right) behind bars
Starring Timothy Spall (left) as Peter, it shows how the 28-year-old Field (Eanna Hardwicke, centre) was ultimately found guilty of Peter’s murder in August 2019 when he was 69. He had also duped and drugged 83-year-old retired headmistress Ann Moore-Martin (Anne Reid, right), who lived three doors away in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire, but he was cleared of killing her
Field, the son of a Baptist minister, was born in October 1990, ten months after Peter started his diary, and would grow up to be one of the most disturbing killers in British criminal history.
Yet tragically, when they met in 2011, Peter saw the young man as the answer to a lifetime of prayers — not realising he was being played for a fool.
The horrific story of how the former churchwarden inveigled his way into the lives of two lonely, devoutly Christian pensioners; seducing them, gaslighting them and persuading them to change their wills in his favour before poisoning them, has now been retold in an acclaimed new BBC crime drama, The Sixth Commandment.
Starring Timothy Spall as Peter, it shows how the 28-year-old Field (Eanna Hardwicke) was ultimately found guilty of Peter’s murder in August 2019 when he was 69. He had also duped and drugged 83-year-old retired headmistress Ann Moore-Martin (Anne Reid), who lived three doors away in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire, but he was cleared of killing her.
READ MORE: Viewers of The Sixth Commandment praise Éanna Hardwicke’s ‘sinister’ portrayal of a murderous fraudster and call for him to win ‘all the awards’ as the disturbing BBC drama concludes
Fascinatingly, the true extent of Field’s evil is laid bare in the written records both he — and Peter — left behind. Crucially for the police, Field was as prolific as Peter when it came to keeping a record of his life.
This week, the Mail has pieced together key extracts from the 2,000 pages Peter left behind, along with entries from Field’s notebooks; extraordinary parallel accounts which helped Thames Valley Police convict him.
‘Peter was giving us a picture as to what was happening in his life from beyond the grave,’ says former Detective Chief Inspector Mark Glover, now a senior investigator with the force’s Major Crime Unit.
‘It’s rare in a murder case to have access to that kind of information. I could tell you what Peter did every day of his life from January 1, 1990, until the day before he died. He documented everything.’ So too, he explains, did Field, whose deranged scribblings revealed how he executed his diabolical plot over four years — not to mention a list of 100 potential future victims.
‘Ben recorded everything, including the dosage of drugs he gave to Peter,’ says SOI Glover. ‘It meant we could look at what Ben had written on a certain day and cross-reference it with what Peter had said in his journal about how he was feeling.’
David James Smith, a journalist who wrote a book about Field’s case, Let Us Prey, after sitting through his ten-week trial at Oxford Crown Court, says: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone as truly bad as Field. He was irredeemably wicked. It was just breathtaking.’
Field, then 20, was in the final year of an English and journalism degree when he made a first appearance in Peter’s diary on April 2, 2011. Peter, who had recently retired from £40,000-a-year public school Stowe, was working as a guest lecturer at Buckingham University and teaching the Romantic poets.
‘A pleasant enough group if not very responsive yet, except for one clever, enthusiastic lad, Ben Field,’ he wrote in his journal.
‘He engages and helps to make things work. He is a delightful young man.’
Field, meanwhile, recalled the class in his own writings as ‘dead, dead, dead’.
Soon afterwards, Peter took students, including Field, on a tour of the gardens at Stowe and then to his house for lunch.
He invited them to return and, in August 2011, Field did just that, motivated, according to his own account, by ‘career-minded avarice’. He was hoping to get a job at either the university or Stowe.
Éanna starred in The Sixth Commandment alongside Anne Reid (pictured) who played Ann Moore-Martin, an elderly woman who developed a romantic relationship with Field
After the visit, on August 1, Peter wrote of his ‘delightful guest’: ‘He is exceptionally humane and thoughtful for a 20-year-old. It is clear that he wants to come again and I really like his company.’
Field’s recollections give an early glimpse of his duplicitousness. ‘I went over and was amusing and cheered the poor man up . . . he rattles around his house.’
He said he planned to ‘exploit both Peter’s vanity and his desire for companionship’.
Field’s continued manipulation and seduction of Peter is charted in the latter’s diary. October 2011: ‘Ben is so sympathetic, warm, amusing and appreciative. I’ve given him a key to the house. I’m just so grateful to God for suddenly bringing Ben into my life.’
And in December that year: ‘Ben is an absolute delight, so clever and seriously intellectual. He has become a really lovely friend. His extreme charm combines youthful laddishness with watching the birds at lunch, quoting verbatim beautiful lines from Shakespeare.’
READ MORE: Detective who brought killer churchwarden depicted in BBC’s Sixth Commandment to justice reveals how he caught the sadist who drugged, gaslit and murdered elderly gay university lecturer to inherit his estate
After Field finished university in 2012, he moved back to his parents’ home in Olney, Buckinghamshire, and found work at Tesco.
But he occasionally dropped by for a meal at Peter’s house and sometimes stayed over in the spare room. Peter also drove to see Field, who wrote of the ‘vulgarly commercial’ aspect of their relationship: ‘He gives me things, and he gets me for a length of time.’
But unsuspecting Peter was overjoyed as the pair’s friendship deepened. Having kept his sexuality hidden throughout his life, he was ‘happily’ taken aback when Field challenged him about being gay.
In 2013, he paid for his young friend to join him on holiday in Portugal. In September that year, Peter changed his will for the first time, leaving £2,000 and two paintings to Field who was, by now, accompanying him to services at Stowe Parish Church.
He became a trusted member of the congregation, eventually becoming a deputy churchwarden with a view to being ordained.
Writing in an internet chatroom log later discovered by the police he said: ‘I’m gonna become a vicar and s*** because I can outmanoeuvre the church.’ In October 2013, the pair went on a walking trip to Exmoor in Somerset and climbed Dunkery Beacon, where Field declared his love for Peter.
The teacher wrote: ‘We embraced and hugged each other. I can’t believe this has happened, that Ben can love me! A miracle if ever there was one.’ His happiness spilled out across the pages: ‘God is good to me, far better than I deserve. Gone are the fears of dying alone.’
What Peter didn’t know was that Field was sleeping with at least four different women at this time, as well as prostituting himself to men via dating apps. He was also reading Peter’s diaries, tapping into his every thought.
Blissfully unaware, Peter replaced the single bed he had slept in throughout his life with a double.
Field moved into his three-bedroom home and proposed on January 3, 2014 — Peter’s 68th birthday — setting the scene by putting on Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
‘Ben made this an exceptional and wonderful birthday,’ wrote Peter in his diary. ‘He presented me with a beautiful jet and mother of pearl knife.
‘He asked formally and with great dignity and beauty if we could be ‘betrothed’.
‘He wanted to be mine and all that he was to be mine. I accepted with all my heart. I love him so entirely and dearly. This is one of the most magnificent and happy days of my life.’
In March 2014 the pair undertook a private church betrothal ceremony and in November that year, Peter changed his will again, this time leaving Field his house, £15,000 and a silver wine holder.
Undated handout photo issued by Thames Valley Police of Peter Farqhuar (right) and Benjamin Field
Just two weeks later, Peter’s health mysteriously began to deteriorate. Field’s writings reveal plans to cover up his crime, which included planting the idea among friends and relatives that Peter was an alcoholic, calling 999 on several occasions and playing the part of the concerned partner.
In reality, he was lacing Peter’s food with various benzodiazepine medications — sleeping pills — and psychoactive drugs, which caused hallucinations. Some of these drugs were stolen from the care home where Field worked at the time.
On JUNE 14, 2015, Field wrote: ‘Breakfast in bed, 2.5mg Diclaz on toast’ — a reference to diclazepam, which is about ten times more potent than Valium.
The same day, Peter wrote in his journal: ‘Ben made up for yesterday by giving me breakfast in bed.’
He later noted that ‘I’ve been feeling tired and lethargic for a few weeks now. I have occasionally lost my balance. Ben has been so kind and imaginative’.
READ MORE: The Sixth Commandment viewers are blown away by Timothy Spall’s performance as a gay academic murdered by churchwarden – as they demand he wins a BAFTA
By July he was suffering severe hallucinations: ‘I saw hideous packs of black insects . . . I had no sense of balance. A bad thing has entered my brain.’
And in August: ‘I have lost my faith. I speak to a God, who if he is there at all, doesn’t answer. I can hardly walk. I shuffle along and am in danger of losing my balance. So many things have gone wrong. Please let nothing else go wrong.’
In his diary, Field mapped out his timeline for murder, concluding ‘2015 end Peter’. Next to his name, he drew a picture of a grave and captioned it ‘hole’s the goal’.
He listed ‘ending speeches’, thought to be what he planned to say to Peter as he was dying. They included: ‘I hated you all along’ and ‘This is my house/the future.’
Author Smith says: ‘You can imagine Ben standing over him, telling him that before he died.
‘You have to hope it didn’t happen but Ben would have taken pleasure in letting Peter see he never cared for him.’
Glover says that Peter started to suspect all was not right before his death. In September 2015, he tightened up his will, this time leaving Field only a ‘life interest’ in his house, meaning that he could have use of it only during his lifetime and couldn’t sell it.
‘It does make you wonder if Ben felt he had to expedite his plans,’ says Glover.
Peter’s last journal entry, on October 24, 2015, two days before his murder, was: ‘A pleasant autumnal day. I bought bulbs for the garden, planted 20 daffodils to provide a view from the patio window.’
When he was found dead at home by his cleaner on October 26, 2015, with a near empty bottle of whisky next to him, his death was initially attributed to alcohol poisoning.
Field read the eulogy at his funeral and might have got away with murder if it hadn’t been for the fact that he had already turned his attention to Peter’s spinster neighbour, Ann Moore-Martin, wooing her with old-fashioned love letters and convincing her too that age was no bar to their love.
As with Peter, he recorded his plans to deceive her.
After drugging Ann over a period of months, he tricked her into thinking that God was speaking to her via messages scrawled on her mirror, telling her to change her will in Field’s favour, which she did.
Ann Moore-Martin and her house (circled on right) near Peter Farquhar’s (also circled) in Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire
Field read the eulogy at his funeral and might have got away with murder if it hadn’t been for the fact that he had already turned his attention to Peter’s spinster neighbour, Ann Moore-Martin (pictured), wooing her with old-fashioned love letters and convincing her too that age was no bar to their love
She changed it back just before her death in May 2017 after her niece raised the alarm and called the police.
Glover says Ann was devastated when she realised she had been duped. ‘It troubled her deeply,’ he says. Tragically, she died before she could read and sign the statement she had given to police about Field.
But after Field’s DNA and fingerprints were found on Peter’s whisky bottle and glass, and on packets of drugs seized from his home, the former teacher’s body was exhumed and traces of the psychoactive drug used to poison him were found in his hair. It was the final piece of evidence that police needed.
Smith observed Field at his 2019 trial where he pleaded guilty to fraud and burglary but not murder. He recalls: ‘At times it was as if he was delivering an English lecture, explaining his theories about language and words.
‘He tried to explain away his damning journals by claiming there was no truth in words, he was just interested in the stories you could tell with them.’
Field was given a life sentence for the murder of Peter Farquhar and is locked up for at least 36 years.
The final mystery in this diabolical saga is why he incriminated himself by writing about his crimes.
Glover says that it’s not unusual for poisoners to keep records. Smith adds that at his trial, Field seemed not to care about the outcome. ‘It was as if he was resigned to his fate,’ he says.
He has never shown any remorse for his crimes but there was, says Smith, one clear sign that Field was aware of the evil he had inside; the vasectomy he had, aged 23.
‘At his trial he said he never wanted to be a parent,’ says the author. ‘It was as if he knew what he was and didn’t want to reproduce himself. Somewhere he knew how wicked he was.’
Source: Read Full Article