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Former churchwarden jailed for life for murder parishioner

25 October 2019

PA

An undated file photo issued by Thames Valley Police of Peter Farquhar (left) and Benjamin Field

An undated file photo issued by Thames Valley Police of Peter Farquhar (left) and Benjamin Field

BENJAMIN FIELD, a former churchwarden, was given a life sentence last Friday for the murder of Peter Farquhar, in October 2015. The diocese of Oxford said this week that Field had “manipulated everyone he came into contact with”.

Field, 28, was found guilty in August of the murder of Mr Farquhar, a former head of English at Stowe School, aged 69, in October 2015 (News, 16 August). Field was cleared of conspiracy to murder Ann Moore-Martin, a neighbour of Mr Farquhar with whom Field began a relationship after Mr Farquhar’s death

Sentencing, the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, said that Field “lived by deception and deceit, and had been a well-practised and able liar”.

He continued: “The evidence at trial clearly demonstrated grandiosity; a sense of superiority towards others; the exploitation of others to achieve personal gain; the need to belittle and humiliate others; fixation on fantasies of power and success; intelligence; a need for admiration from others and a sense of entitlement; together with an unwillingness to empathise with the feelings, needs, and wishes of others.”

The son of a Baptist minister, Field was a 22-year-old student at the University of Buckingham when he met Mr Farquhar, a guest lecturer at the university in 2011. He began to accompany Mr Farquhar to Stowe Parish Church, in the grounds of Stowe School. He was made deputy churchwarden and, in September 2014, secretary of the PCC. This position enabled him to alter the minutes of meetings, adding comments about Mr Farquhar’s declining health.

After Mr Farquhar’s death, Field told the congregation that he was exploring ordination, and he met the director of ordinands for the diocese of Oxford.

Though the DDO, the Revd Caroline Windley, had “vague uncertainty” about him, the diocese said, his strong references meant that he was put forward to a BAP. He was five days away from this when he was arrested.

In a statement issued this week, the diocese of Oxford said: “It’s clear that Ben Field manipulated everyone he came into contact with. We’re determined to learn what we can from this extraordinary case. The Church and wider society needs to be ever more vigilant of those who can be made vulnerable by the likes of Ben Field, simply because they are elderly or lonely.”

The diocese is carrying out a review to learn lessons from the case.

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