When 83-year-old Ann Moore-Martin saw the first message that she thought was from God, written in iridescent white on her parlor mirror, she couldn't believe her luck. She was a devout Christian who had waited patiently for God to send her both love and a sign. Now, it seemed, he had sent both. “Pray for Ben. Ben loves you,” the message said. It disappeared a few hours later.
The message was referring to Ben Field, the 28-year-old preacher’s son with whom the octogenarian spinster had entered into a romantic relationship. It was also written by him, according to photos of his handiwork that were found on his cellphone.
Field is currently on trial in Britain’s Oxford Crown Court for attempting to kill Moore-Martin and for allegedly murdering Peter Farquhar, a 66-year-old retired English professor whom he had also seduced. Field’s friend, a magician named Martyn Smith, is also on trial for the crimes of attempted murder and murder. Both men deny the charges.
This week, the court was shown selfies of Field in front of the many messages he scrawled on Moore-Martin’s mirrors along with flowery poems and love letters, and even a proposal for marriage. Field made meticulous notes and diagrams to help him remember what he wrote on which mirror, and when he wiped it clean. The court was also shown handwritten lists of potential outcomes and ways the elderly woman might die, which included “heart attack—electrical device, dehydration, stair, sex?, in the bath?”
Through his lawyer, he has admitted to fraudulently entering into a romantic relationship for the purpose of duping the older woman into leaving him her house and other possessions, which she initially did, but he denies plotting to kill her.
Anne-Marie Blake, the former headmistress’s niece, finally convinced her aunt that Field was just after her money when she suffered an inexplicable seizure in 2017. She told the court that her aunt was devastated when she realized what Field was doing. “She was tortured by it and found it very difficult to get her head around the betrayal,” Blake told the court. “She said to me, ‘I am such an intelligent woman. How could I let this happen to myself?’’’ The court was also shown Moore-Martin’s desperate letters to Field, asking him to confirm that he had really loved her.
Other than the sheer oddity that a 28-year-old man would be sexually attracted to a woman three times his age, Blake told the court that she found Field “weird.” During Moore-Martin’s hospitalization for her seizures, Field continued to call and ask Blake not how her aunt was, but if she was dead. Moore-Martin was released from the hospital, but died shortly afterward.
“She went from being very sociable and going out and doing things to being bed-bound,” Blake told the court. She blames Field, who she believes was poisoning her aunt.
The court also heard a telephone call Moore-Martin made to her bank to withdraw all the money she had in an account to help “the brother of a very dear friend” who “might die” if she did not fund a kidney dialysis machine the National Health System would not provide. As the elderly often do, Moore-Martin felt the need to explain to the teller in great detail just how she intended to spend the money, even naming Field and his brother and the fact that their father was a preacher. The money, she later wrote in a note that was entered into evidence, was for Field’s brother, Tom—who had actually never had a kidney problem in his life. Still, prosecutors said, they were able to bilk Moore-Martin for some $38,000 for the machine. Field’s brother, who was charged with fraud in the kidney dialysis scam, has admitted his guilt.
Field met Moore-Martin through Farquhar, who lived just two houses down in the sleepy hamlet of Maids Moreton, northwest of London. The court had previously heard how Field allegedly seduced the closeted professor and then drugged him by lacing his toast with poison or spiking his drinks with bio-ethanol fuel. Farquhar was found dead on his sofa in October 2015 of apparent alcohol poisoning.
A few weeks later, Field was at Moore-Martin’s door, according to court testimony. While Farquhar and Moore-Martin were friends, the court heard that Farquhar had never shared his sexual ties—and informal marriage—to Field with her.
The court also heard that while Field admittedly preyed on the elderly woman’s loneliness, he was bedding a series of much younger women, including a lesbian couple. In one explicit message exchange with his magician friend, Field, who goes by the sign-on name “StAbleMan,” recounted how he was seeing a woman with a child who he refers to with the acronym MILF (Mother I’d Like to Fuck), sometimes adding GF for girlfriend. “I’m cheating on old man with milfgf,” he writes. Then he explained in sophomoric detail about how he seduced the lesbian couple—all while seeing Farquhar—and eventually slept with one and then the other before bedding both, at least according to his account. Later in the exchange, he wrote that sleeping with the lesbians was uncomplicated, adding: “no self-hatred involved.”
Before the trial adjourned for the week, the court also heard from 101-year-old Liz Zettl. Copies of her last will and testament were found in both Field’s and Smith’s possession when they were arrested. Zettl could not confirm if she was a target, but when Field’s attorney Tim Moloney suggested that perhaps his client was simply helping her type handwritten amendments, she snapped back, “I would say it was very unlikely, I was a typist.”
The court trial is scheduled to continue for another six weeks. Both Field and Smith are expected to testify.