Ex-church warden loses appeal against conviction for murder of lecturer

Brian Farmer, PA
·1-min read

A former church warden serving a life sentence for killing a university lecturer following a campaign of physical and mental torture has lost an appeal against conviction.

Benjamin Field was found guilty of killing Peter Farquhar, 69, in order to inherit his house and money after driving him to think he was losing his mind following a period of gaslighting.

He asked three appeal judges to overturn his conviction earlier this year, at a Court of Appeal hearing in London.

Lord Justice Fulford, Mrs Justice Whipple and Mr Justice Fordham ruled against him on Thursday.

Field, 30, of Olney, Buckinghamshire, was ordered to serve at least 36 years behind bars in October 2019, after being convicted of Mr Farquhar’s murder, after a trial at Oxford Crown Court.

Peter Farqhuar (right) and Benjamin Field (Thames Valley Police/PA)
Peter Farqhuar (right) and Benjamin Field (Thames Valley Police/PA)

A barrister representing him had argued, at an appeal hearing in January, that trial judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, had misdirected the jury and said the murder conviction was “unsafe” as a result.

David Jeremy QC argued that directions given to jurors before they started deliberations left the defence with “nothing to say” when in fact there was “much that could be said on Field’s behalf on the issue of causation”.

But appeal judges disagreed.

“… we consider that the approach of the judge was correct”, said Lord Justice Fulford in a written ruling on Thursday.

“The judge’s directions captured the essence of the issue in a clear and admirably succinct manner.”

He added: “We dismiss the appeal against conviction.”