Lecturer wrote poem about man on trial for his murder calling him 'deceptive and disloyal'

Telegraph Reporters
Maids Moreton murder victim Peter Farquhar

A university lecturer wrote an unflattering poem about the man accused of murdering him, a jury has heard.

Peter Farquhar, 69, penned 18 lines of rhyming verse about Benjamin Field after the church warden wrote "extremely insulting" poems about him.

Field, 28, is on trial with magician Martyn Smith, 32, accused of killing Mr Farquhar and conspiring to murder retired headmistress Ann Moore-Martin, 83, following a sustained campaign of "gaslighting".

Mr Farquhar died in October 2015, while Miss Moore-Martin, who lived a few doors away in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, died in May 2017.

Mr Farquhar, a novelist and retired head of English, described aspiring poet Field as "deceptive and disloyal", a "nonentity whom nobody reads" and said "hurting others is his special pleasure".

The poem was read to the jury at Oxford Crown Court by Field, who was giving evidence for a second day.

Field, a son of a baptist minister, said Mr Farquhar wrote the poem after Field had presented him - as a Christmas present in 2012 - a series of writings about him, which he had called the Truest Jest collection.

Peter Farquhar and Ben Field at their betrothal ceremony in 2014 Credit: INS

"I thought he would perhaps, not actually like it, but see it as a bit of fun, a bit of sport," Field said.

He said the poetry was part of his preparations for "rap battles" he had with people in online forums.

David Jeremy QC, representing Field, asked him why he had never written any poems focusing on Mr Farquhar's positive qualities.

"I suppose because I was not a nice writer, because I suppose that was something I didn't want to do," Field replied.

The defendant has admitted deceiving Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin into believing they were in loving relationships with him to benefit from their wills.

He also admits "gaslighting" them by hiding things and making them believe they were losing their minds.

Field told the jury that "part of the scam" on Mr Farquhar included proposing in January 2013 and weeks later going through a betrothal ceremony.

He added: "It was part of working my way into his feelings. The idea of the proposal didn't come to me until after I moved in and the idea of the betrothal was Peter's."

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

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.

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

Field's younger brother, 24-year-old Cambridge University graduate Tom, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, is also on trial accused of fraud.

The trial continues.