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By Nicolae Trofin

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Vulnerable clients and concerning situations should always be in the forefront of our mind when attending client meetings but a recent criminal case has highlighted just how catastrophic a situation can be. For those of you who have followed this news story since 2019 or for those who have watched the BBC drama ‘The Sixth Commandment’, you may be familiar with this but for those who haven’t, I will recap on the facts.

Who was involved?

Peter Farquhar was a head teacher of a school and retired in 2004 but went on to be a guest lecturer at the University of Buckingham and it was here that he met Benjamin Field who a student at the time. Peter’s neighbour Anne MooreMartin was a Catholic and regular church-goer who had also known Mr Field. What happened? Peter had a wide circle of friends but was a lonely man. He was deeply religious but struggled with his sexuality; something that was exploited by Mr Field.

They started a relationship and went on to marry in 2014. Peter was said to be besotted by Mr Field and he changed his Will to give Mr Field a life interest in his property and named him as the main beneficiary of his estate. Peter died in 2015, and the coroner’s report believed it was from alcohol intoxication. Anne had close friends and a niece whom she was very close to but after Peter’s death, Mr Field took advantage of her loneliness and developed a relationship with her. Anne gave him over £30,000 during her lifetime for various reasons and at one point was even told that some money was needed to pay for a dialysis machine for his younger brother. Anne later died of natural causes, but her Will had been changed before her death. It was her niece who alerted the police of their relationship and the concerns she had about potential Will Fraud.

The trial

It was heard at Mr Field’s 10-weektrial that he had carried our numerous acts to make Peter question his sanity including moving items around the house and drugging his food and drink. People believed that Peter was developing dementia as a result of his actions, but this was not the case. After a second post-mortem took place, it was revealed that Peter had sedatives in his system and Mr Field was convicted of Peter’s murder in 2019. Mr Field also admitted to duping both Peter and Anne into fake relationships, all part of his plan to have them change their Wills for his gain.

The verdict

Mr Field was convicted of murder and was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 36 years. in June 2020. He also faced legal proceedings focused on the illicit gain.

What happened next?

Oxford Crown Court instructed Mr Field to pay over £190,000 in compensation to the victims’ families, but the full figure was not accessible. Mr Field had sold the property that he acquired on Peter’s death and bought a flat in Towcester. This flat has now been sold and the proceeds are being used to compensate the families, but this was not enough to cover the full amount. Mr Field has been told that the remaining sum must be paid to avoid this prison term being extended.

For any estate planning enquiries in Bexhill-on-Sea, Hastings, Battle, Rye, Eastbourne or East Sussex please get in touch for a free consultation.

This message was added on Saturday 7th October 2023

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