‘Drugs on toast torture’
Novelist was ‘fed hallucinogens as part of murder plot and saw hideous packs of black insects’
A RETIRED university lecturer was served hallucinogenic drugs on his toast as part of a plot to murder him and claim his estate, a court heard yesterday.
Peter Farquhar, 69, began to question his sanity as he was allegedly targeted in a sustained campaign of mental torture.
The former head of English at the prestigious Stowe School was seeing ‘hideous packs of black insects’ after the drugs were put in his food and he was subjected to the psychological manipulation known as ‘gaslighting’, it is claimed.
The author was also left a ‘dribbling shambles’ after his drinks were ‘supercharged’ with near-pure alcohol, a jury was told.
One neurologist, oblivious to the truth, came to the conclusion that an unknown condition must be ‘rapidly destroying his cerebellum’.
Instead, his lodgers in Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire – deputy church warden Ben Field, 28, and magician Martyn Smith, 32 – were lacing his food with the powerful hallucinogenic 2C-B before they finally suffocated him, Oxford Crown Court was told.
Field and Smith are also accused of planning the death of the author’s neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, 83, having also got her to change her will. Field is said to have started sexual relationships with both pensioners as part of the plots.
At one point, the two students – who had met Mr Farquhar at the University of Buckingham, where he was a guest lecturer – took him to the launch of his 2015 novel A Wide Wide Sea at Stowe while he was under the influence of drugs.
The jury was told he appeared ‘frail, very unwell, very confused, slumped at a table, visibly struggling to sign books’. Prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC said: ‘[A witness] remembers [him] calling out there was light coming into his eyes. Apparently, he thought he was being attacked by shards of light.’
Despite his ordeal Mr Farquhar called Field, who he had ‘married’ in a church ceremony in 2014, a ‘perfect companion’.
But from October that year, Mr Farquhar’s condition deteriorated as the drugging and ‘ gaslighting’ escalated, the court heard.
The jury was shown ‘callous’ video clips Field had recorded of Mr Farquhar, including one of him apparently hallucinating and talking of a ‘they’ he was worried about, while Field taunted him by asking who the imaginary person was.
Mr Saxby said: ‘It is Field’s tone which you might like to bear in mind and the complete and utter lack of empathy.’
In October 2015 Field allegedly murdered the author with Smith’s ‘assistance’, fooling friends, family and even the coroner into thinking he had drunk himself to death.
But samples taken after his body was exhumed revealed ‘repeated exposure’ to drugs. The pathologist’s report concluded they would have accentuated the effects of alcohol and ‘could have allowed third party interference... for instance, smothering’.
Field inherited £20,000 from Mr Farquhar and a life interest in the house, while Smith got £10,000.
The court previously heard how the pair also manipulated spinster Miss Moore-Martin into changing her will. She survived the ordeal but died of natural causes two months after her niece’s concerns led to a police investigation.
Field, of Olney, Buckinghamshire, and Smith, of Redruth, Cornwall, deny murder and conspiracy to murder. Field also denies an alternative charge of attempted murder.
Field’s younger brother Tom, 24, denies fraud in relation to a claim he helped extract £27,000 from Miss Moore-Martin by posing as an ill patient in need of a kidney dialysis machine. The trial continues.
‘Complete and utter lack of empathy’
Trial: Church warden Ben Field, left, and magician Martyn Smith
Left a ‘dribbling shambles’: Author Peter Farquhar