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Church warden and magician charged with murder of teacher and his elderly neighbour

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Church warden and magician charged with murder of teacher and his elderly neighbour

A church warden and magician have appeared in court over the murder of an inspirational elderly teacher in a quaint Buckinghamshire village.

English teacher Peter Farquhar, 69, and his 83-year-old neighbour Ann Moore-Martin were both found dead in the village of Maids Moreton, near Buckingham.

The pensioners lived three houses apart in Manor Park in the village and died within a year and a half of each other.

Mr Farquhar’s lodger, Ben Field, 27, a church warden, and 31-year-old Martyn Smith appeared at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court today.

They are charged with conspiracy to murder Ann Moore Martin and Peter Farquhar, the murder of Peter Farquhar and the attempted murder of Ann Moore Martin. 

Ben Field

Ben Field

Martyn Smith

Martyn Smith

Ben Field, 27, a church warden, and 31-year-old magician Martyn Smith, have been charged for questioning over the murders of 69-year-old Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin, 83

Mr Farquhar

Mr Farquhar

Miss Moore-Martin

Miss Moore-Martin

Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin (left and right) died within a year and a half of each other 

Field also faces two charges of fraud and three of burglary and Smith one fraud and two of burglary.

Field, who has glasses and a beard, and Smith, who has a light brown beard, smiled at their parents in the public gallery. They spoke to confirm their dates of birth, addresses and nationalities.

They were remanded in custody by the Chair of the Bench Lynne Jones to appear before a judge at Oxford crown court tomorrow.

A 22-year-old man from Olney was also arrested on suspicion of one count of conspiracy to defraud, one count conspiring to commit fraud by false representation and one count of suspicion of fraud by false representation.

He has been released under investigation.

It is understood that both men helped look after Mr Farquhar as his health deteriorated in the final months of his life. After his death Field then moved in with Miss Moore-Martin. 

Locals described Mr Farquhar as a gentle but determined man and were baffled as his health suddenly deteriorated and he went into a nursing home just a few hundred yards from his house.

One local told how the ex-public school teacher and regular churchman was normally outgoing but suddenly turned quite introverted.

An original inquest into his death ruled that he died from drinking too much and there was no mention of any suspicion of foul play.

Mr Field was one of the main beneficiaries of his will and was given the right to live in his £300,000 home for as long as he wished.

All Mr Field was required to do was keep the property in good condition, pay the bills and ensure the contents of the house remained insured.

 The pensioners lived three houses apart in Manor Park in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire

 The pensioners lived three houses apart in Manor Park in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire

 The pensioners lived three houses apart in Manor Park in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire

However, Mr Field had moved out within a year and purchased a flat in Towcester, Northamptonshire. The property was bought for £97,500, paid for in cash.

The church warden, from Olney, Buckinghamshire was one of three executors of Mr Farquhar’s will and also received powers over the former teacher’s unpublished manuscripts.

The other two executors were believed to be Mr Farquhar’s two nephews and the pair benefited from the eventual sale of his Maids Moreton property that was sold for £290,000 in December 2016.

Mr Farquhar had already published a number of novels and it was thought that Mr Smith and Mr Field were keen for him to continue publishing further novels and use his vast literary library to start a documentary film about his life.

The pair began a company called Farquhar Studies that was registered at Mr Farquhar’s former address from July 2015 and dissolved in November 2016. Mr Smith and Ben Field had listed themselves as joint directors.

Mr Farquhar lectured at the University of Buckingham and had previously taught at Manchester Grammar School and Stowe School in Buckinghamshire

Mr Farquhar lectured at the University of Buckingham and had previously taught at Manchester Grammar School and Stowe School in Buckinghamshire

Mr Farquhar lectured at the University of Buckingham and had previously taught at Manchester Grammar School and Stowe School in Buckinghamshire

Mr Farquhar was a retired part-time English lecturer at the University of Buckingham, having previously taught at Manchester Grammar School and Stowe School in Buckinghamshire.

A friend of Mr Farquhar claimed that before his death he was suffering from a urinary tract infection and complained of restlessness and ‘bad thoughts’ at night.

Two days before his death he told friends ‘Hallelujah, I’m feeling a lot better’.

Inspirational teacher who taught Channel 4 journalist  

Mr Farquhar was remembered by family, friends and former pupils as an eccentric but inspirational figure.

Born in Edinburgh in 1946 and educated at Churchill College, Cambridge, he spent three decades teaching at £12,000-a-year Manchester Grammar School.

It was there that he inspired pupil David Scheinmann to write a character based on him for the 2014 movie Believe, set in 1980s Manchester. Mr Farquhar moved to leading public school Stowe in Buckinghamshire, and settled in the village of Maids Moreton.

One former pupil, Channel 4 political correspondent Michael Crick, described him as ‘bird-like in appearance’, but what he lacked in physical stature, he made up for with his lightning mind and quick wit. He never married and had no children.

Channel 4 News political correspondent Mr Crick, who was taught by Mr Farquhar at Manchester Grammar School and who remained life-long friends with him, said he was shocked by his death.

Speaking before they were charged, a Thames Valley Police spokesman said: ‘Thames Valley Police has re-arrested two men in connection with a murder investigation, after two elderly residents died in Buckinghamshire.

‘The investigation is in relation to the deaths of two residents of Maids Moreton, near Buckingham: Peter Farquhar died on 26 October 2015, aged 69, and Ann Moore-Martin died on 12 May 2017, aged 83.

‘The men were originally arrested in connection with the investigation on 16 January this year, but were re-arrested today. They are currently in police custody at this time.

‘A 27-year-old man, formerly of Towcester, Northamptonshire, now of Olney, has been re-arrested on suspicion of one count of murder of Peter Farquhar, conspiracy to murder Peter Farquhar, one count of suspicion of fraud by false representation, and one count of burglary.

‘A 31-year-old man, from Redruth, Cornwall, has been re-arrested on suspicion of one count of murder of Peter Farquhar, one count of conspiracy to murder Peter Farquhar, one count of suspicion of fraud by false representation, and one count of burglary.

‘They each remain on bail until November 15 for further offences: one count of murder, one count of conspiracy to murder, one count of suspicion of fraud by false representation and one count of conspiracy to defraud.’  

Locals described Mr Farquhar as a gentle but determined man and were baffled as his health suddenly deteriorated and he went into a nursing home just a few hundred yards from his house in Maids Moreton (pictured) 

Locals described Mr Farquhar as a gentle but determined man and were baffled as his health suddenly deteriorated and he went into a nursing home just a few hundred yards from his house in Maids Moreton (pictured) 

Locals described Mr Farquhar as a gentle but determined man and were baffled as his health suddenly deteriorated and he went into a nursing home just a few hundred yards from his house in Maids Moreton (pictured) 

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