A churchwarden jailed for killing an author to inherit his estate has lost his appeal to have his murder conviction overturned, according to the BBC.
Benjamin Field, 30, was jailed for a minimum of 36 years in 2019 for the murder of 69-year-old Peter Farquhar in Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire.
His barrister previously argued the conviction was “unsafe” as the trial judge misdirected the jury.
But the Court of Appeal has upheld his conviction.
Field duped Mr Farquhar into a fake relationship to get the author to change his will and make him the main beneficiary.
The trial heard Field carried out a sustained “gaslighting” plot aimed at making Mr Farquhar question his sanity.
Mr Farquhar’s drinks were topped up with bioethanol and poteen, a high strength Irish alcohol, and his food was laced with drugs in the lead up to his death in 2015, prosecutors said.
Jurors were told Field “suffocated him” when he was too weak to resist, and left a half-empty bottle of whisky in Mr Farquhar’s room to create the misconception he had drunk himself to death.
Mr Farquhar died in October 2015 and then Field embarked on a relationship with his neighbour, 87-year-old retired head mistress Ann Moore-Martin.
Miss Moore-Martin died of natural causes in May 2017 and Field was accused of plotting to kill her, but was found not guilty.
University lecturer Mr Farquhar and Field had undergone a “betrothal” ceremony while the trial heard Field and Miss Moore-Martin had a sexual relationship.
Field admitted duping both Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin into fake relationships with him as part of a plot to get them to change their wills, but denied any involvement in their deaths.
At the Court of Appeal hearing in January, Field’s barrister David Jeremy QC argued the directions given to the jury before it started deliberations left the defence with “nothing to say”, despite there being “much that could be said on Field’s behalf on issue of causation”.
He said full directions would have allowed the defence to explain that the prosecution “could not prove causation” as there was “no evidence that Mr Farquhar had been forced or tricked” into consuming alcohol and a tranquiliser drug.
For the Crown Prosecution Service, Oliver Saxby QC said the murder conviction was safe as the drugs, alcohol and “smothering” were all part of a plan concocted by Field.
In a written ruling, Lord Justice Fulford said he, Mrs Justice Whipple and Mr Justice Fordham considered “the approach of the judge was correct”.
“The judge’s directions captured the essence of the issue in a clear and admirably succinct manner,” he said.
“We dismiss the appeal against conviction.”