On 26 October 2015, British novelist and former English teacher and lecturer Peter Farquhar, 69, passed away in his home in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, allegedly by accident as the result of acute alcohol intoxication. The death was not originally treated as suspicious, but after Peter’s neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, aged 83, died in similar circumstances two years later, law enforcement started to take a closer look at both deaths. The death of Ann coupled with shocking accounts found in Peter’s diary launched a double murder investigation with Peter’s former lover as the prime suspect.
At the time of his death, Peter was betrothed to a former pupil, Ben Field, aged 28. The older man was taken by the Cambridge graduate’s youthful good looks as well as his intelligence. In one of the many entries in his diary, Peter wrote of his infatuation with the younger man saying; “We embraced and hugged each other. I can’t believe that this has happened: Ben can love me – a miracle if ever there was one.”
Soon after, Ben moved into Peter’s home in Buckingham and held down a part-time job at a nursing home, volunteering as a churchwarden alongside friend and fellow student Martyn Smith, who also began to lodge with the couple.
Not long after, worrying entries in Peter’s diary described how “something [was] not right” that he had begun to feel “lethargic” and thought he was “losing his mind” as he began to see “hideous packs of black insects”.
Throughout the course of the investigation, it emerged that Ben was not the loving partner Peter had fallen for, it was all a facade. The younger man had in fact been seeing four women at the same time he was living with Peter. Furthermore, Ben had begun to gaslight his partner by drugging, deceiving and defrauding Peter in order to get him to change his will so that he would be the beneficiary.
The cold and calculated Ben then moved onto his second victim, neighbour Ann, also coaxing her into a fake relationship and employing the same tactics to work his way into her will. Before Ann died, she suffered a seizure and was admitted to hospital, where she told staff that Ben had given her “white powder”. She later died from natural causes but her claims prompted detectives to take a look closer into Peter’s death.
However, without the information pieced together by Peter’s diary entries, both his murder and the subsequent murder of neighbour Ann, may have remained unsolved to this day. Senior investigating officer DCI Mark Glover said; “In a way Peter is talking to us from beyond the grave, potentially narrating his own murder.”
After gathering more evidence, Ben was brought to trial where he admitted to duping both Peter and Ann into fake relationships in a bid to get them to change their wills, however, he denied involvement in either of the deaths. Peter was found guilty of murdering Peter, but not guilty on plotting Ann’s murder. He was sentenced to life in prison and has been ordered to serve a minimum of 36 years.
The full extent of Ben’s deceit is revealed in the Channel 4 documentary Catching a Killer: A Diary From the Grave which aired on Monday, January 13, 2020, and is now available to watch on-demand.
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