Beds, Herts & Bucks

Maids Moreton: Murder trial jury sent home due to heat

Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Benjamin Field and Martyn Smith are accused of murdering Peter Farquhar (pictured left) and conspiring to murder Ann Moore-Martin (right)

A jury deliberating verdicts in a murder trial have been sent home due to "extreme heat" as UK temperatures soar.

The panel is considering if Benjamin Field, 28, and Martyn Smith, 32, are guilty or not of murdering Peter Farquhar, 69, and conspiring to murder Ann Moore-Martin, 83, in Maids Moreton.

The jurors told the judge they were struggling to concentrate at Oxford Crown Court despite using a fan.

Mr Justice Sweeney said it was "not appropriate" for them to continue.

A heatwave is predicted to bring temperatures above 35C to part of the UK over the next few days.

Other cases at the crown court have been called off this week because of an issue with the air conditioning system.

Mr Justice Sweeney said: "It is clearly not appropriate for you to continue to deliberate in the conditions you describe and therefore I am inviting you to stop deliberating for the day."

He said the jury would resume their deliberations on Wednesday morning.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption University lecturer and author Peter Farquhar, left, was betrothed to Benjamin Field, right, who is accused of his murder

The jury have been considering verdicts in the trial of Mr Field and Mr Smith for five days.

Church warden Mr Field and magician Mr Smith are accused of murdering Mr Farquhar, a university lecturer and author, and of conspiring to murder Miss Moore-Martin, a retired headmistress, to gain financially from their wills.

Mr Field has admitted fraudulently being in relationships with Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin as part of a plot to get them to change their wills.

Mr Farquhar died in October 2015 and Miss Moore-Martin died of natural causes in May 2017. The pair lived three doors away from each other in the Buckinghamshire village of Maids Moreton.

Prosecutors allege Mr Field and Mr Smith targeted Miss Moore-Martin after murdering Mr Farquhar.

Mr Field has admitted defrauding Miss Moore-Martin of £4,000 to buy a car but denies recruiting his younger brother Tom, 24, to con her out of £27,000 by claiming it was for a dialysis machine.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Peter Farquhar lived at the house circled on the left, and Ann Moore-Martin on the right

Mr Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, denies murder, conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, and possessing an article for use in fraud. He has admitted four charges of fraud and two of burglary.

His brother Tom Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, denies a single charge of fraud.

Mr Smith, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, denies murder, conspiracy to murder, two charges of fraud, one of burglary and possession of an article for the use in fraud.

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