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Church warden who murdered lecturer ordered to pay £150k to victims

by Press Association

A church warden who murdered a university lecturer in order to inherit his house and money has been ordered to pay back almost £150,000.

Benjamin Field, 29, embarked on a relationship with dedicated churchgoer Peter Farquhar, befriending the 69-year-old so he would change his will in Field's favour.

Once Field was set to be the main beneficiary of Mr Farquhar's will, he started plying the retired lecturer with a cocktail of drugs and alcohol, slowly poisoning him to death.

Field secretly gave Mr Farquhar drugs and spiked his whisky, hoping his eventual death would look like suicide or an accident.

He was convicted by a jury at Oxford Crown Court of Mr Farquhar's murder in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, in 2015 but acquitted of the attempted murder of neighbour Ann Moore-Martin.

The Baptist minister's son had pleaded guilty to defrauding Mr Farquhar of £160,000 from his will and of defrauding Ms Moore-Martin of £4,000 to buy a car and £27,000 for a dialysis machine.

On Thursday, Field appeared via video link at Oxford Crown Court for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Judge Ian Pringle, the Honorary Recorder of Oxford, said: "The defendant's benefit from his criminal conduct in these matters is £193,921.32.

"The defendant's available money and therefore the recoverable amount is £146,561.02.

"The defendant will have until September 18 in which to pay that sum although there is provision if this is not possible for him to have a further three months to do so."

The judge said Field would be jailed for a further 16 months if he failed to pay up.

Of the money, 84% will be paid to the estate of Mr Farquhar and 16% will be paid to that of Ms Moore-Martin.

Speaking after the hearing, Kathryn Curtis of the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Field ruthlessly exploited two beloved members of a small Buckinghamshire village so they would hand their life savings over to him.

"This was a highly unusual case and today's hearing means Field can no longer profit from his cruel actions, as he has been ordered to return the swindled money to the families of Mr Farquhar and Ms Moore-Martin.

"Working to take this money from Field is the last chapter in seeing him finally face justice."

In a previous hearing, it emerged Field is appealing against his murder conviction.

Mr Farquhar's family branded Field a "deeply malevolent and thoroughly evil man" when he was jailed.

Detectives described Field as a psychopath and said he would have posed an "ongoing danger to society" had he not been stopped.

Imposing a life sentence, Mr Justice Sweeney said Field had been convicted by the jury of murder on "overwhelming evidence".

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