Police investigating death of elderly neighbours in quiet village say they may have been poisoned

Martin Evans
Peter Farquhar died after a short sudden illness in 2015

Murder squad detectives investigating the deaths of two elderly neighbours in a Buckinghamshire village believe the pair may have been poisoned, it has emerged.

Peter Farquhar, a retired English teacher and university lecturer, died aged 69 in October 2015, after he was suddenly taken ill at his home in Maids Moreton, near Milton Keynes.

An inquest later ruled that he had died as a result of “acute alcohol poisoning”, with the coroner putting his death down to a tragic accident.

But more than a year later police began looking at his case again after friends of the deeply committed Christian expressed concern about his financial affairs and the circumstances of his sudden illness and death.

When Ann Moore-Martin, Mr Farquhar’s 83-year-old neighbour and friend who was also a retired teacher, died in suspicious circumstances 18 months after Mr Farquhar, Thames Valley Police launched a murder investigation.

Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin lived just three houses apart in the quiet Buckinghamshire village of Maids Moreton Credit: PA

Friends of the pair said police had told them one line of inquiry was that they had been poisoned as part of a plot to get at their substantial estates.

The Rev Hans Talling, of St Edmund’s church in Maids Moreton, said: “[The police] believe he may have been poisoned. What I don’t understand is why police said he died normally. He was very healthy, he taught my son. Then all of a sudden his health deteriorated rapidly within a week.”

 Friends and neighbours of Miss Moore-Martin, a spinster who had lived alone since the death of her elderly mother in 2003, described how her health had suddenly deteriorated in May last year.

Her cause of death has not yet been established and the inquest into her death is yet to take place. It is also understood that her body has not been released to her next of kin for burial.

Retired teacher Ann Moore-Martin died at her home in Maids Moreton in May 2017 Credit: Times Newspapers/Paul Rogers

Ben Field, 27, and Martin Smith, 31, two of Mr Farquhar’s former University of Buckingham students, have been arrested on suspicion of murder and fraud offences.

It has emerged that before his death, Mr Field and Mr Smith began working on a documentary about Mr Farquhar’s life. They set up a company called Farquhar Studies, which published some of the teacher’s novels and poetry.

Mr Farquhar, who taught at Manchester Grammar School for 34 years before moving to Stowe public school and then the University of Buckingham, dedicated his third novel to the pair, saying their encouragement had been “invaluable”. 

Ben Field was arrested on suspicion of murder and fraud offences

Mr Field is also said to have bought Mr Farquhar a dog called Kipling, which the pensioner doted on. 

Mr Field, who was a deputy churchwarden at Stowe Parish Church, is the son of a local Baptist minister and a former Liberal Democrat councillor.

Mr Field’s younger brother Tom, 22, who is studying music at Cambridge University, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud. He has been released under investigation.

Neighbours of the Fields, who live in Olney, near Milton Keynes, called them the “backbone of the community”.

Police have been at the family home of Ben Field in Olney Credit: Eddie Mulholland

Ian and Beverly Field, Ben’s parents, live in an old Victorian railway house owned by the church. Mrs Field was elected to the Harborough District Council, in Market Harborough, Leics, in 2003 as a Liberal Democrat councillor and retired from her post in 2009.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman last night said: “The causes of death are yet to be determined.”