Beds, Herts & Bucks

Maids Moreton: 'Duped' woman, 83, 'tortured by lies'

Ann Moore-Martin Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption The trial heard Ann Moore-Martin had told her family she loved Benjamin Field

An elderly woman was "tortured" at learning she had been duped by a much younger man who declared his love for her, her niece told a court.

Ann Moore-Martin, 83, could not believe she had been so stupid as to fall for 28-year-old Benjamin Field's lies, Oxford Crown Court heard.

He and his friend, magician Martyn Smith, 32, deny planning to kill her in Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire.

They also deny murdering Paul Farquhar, to whom Mr Field was engaged.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption An image of Ben Field photographing a message "from God" on a mirror was found by police on his phone

Church warden Mr Field had written love poems and a series of letters to Miss Moore-Martin and at one point proposed marriage, the court heard.

He admits fraudulently being in a relationship with the retired headmistress as part of a plot to get her to change her will but denies conspiring to kill her.

Anne-Marie Blake said her aunt realised she had been duped after being admitted to hospital having suffered a seizure in 2017.

She said: "She was tortured by it and found it very difficult to get her head around the betrayal.

"She said to me, 'I am such an intelligent woman. How could I let this happen to myself?'"

Image copyright PA
Image caption Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin lived three doors away from each other in Maids Moreton

Mrs Blake said she found Mr Field's manner "weird" and that he asked "is she dead?" a number of times.

She added she did not think Miss Moore-Martin had died of natural causes.

She said: "She went from being very sociable and going out and doing things to being bed-bound."

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Several messages were written on mirrors at Ann Moore-Martin's home

Mr Field also wrote "messages from God" to Miss Moore-Martin on the mirror at her home.

He targeted her after murdering her neighbour Mr Farquhar, 69, with whom he had been living with and was engaged to, the prosecution said.

The church warden also wrote messages urging her to give him £27,000 towards the cost of a dialysis machine for his seriously ill brother, Tom, 24.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption University lecturer Peter Farquhar, left, and church warden Benjamin Field, who is accused of his murder

The court also heard evidence from another potential victim of the defendants, 101-year-old Liz Zettl, who rented her annex to university student, Mr Smith.

Both defendants are accused having a copy of her will and that she was on a list of "targets" drawn up by Mr Field.

Prosecutors allege Mr Smith had emailed himself a copy of her will and his fingerprints were found on her hard copy, kept in her home.

Under cross-examination, Tim Moloney QC, defending Mr Smith, suggested his client had helped Mrs Zettl re-draft her will by typing her handwritten amendments into a document on her computer.

"I would say it was very unlikely," she replied, citing that she had been a typist.

Mr Field and Mr Smith deny murder, conspiracy to murder and possession of an article for use in fraud.

Mr Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, also denies an alternative charge of attempted murder. He has admitted four charges of fraud and two of burglary.

Mr Smith, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, also denies two charges of fraud and one of burglary.

Tom Field, also of Wellingborough Road, Olney, denies a single charge of fraud.

The trial continues.

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